Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Poetry - Julia Ward Howe

Julia Ward Howe is best known, maybe only known these days for The Battle Hymn of the Republic. Once you start reading the words, you can't help but start singing. Ward Howe was very active, during her long life (1819-1910), in the movements for world peace & women's suffrage. This is one of her feminist poems, Furthermore.

We, that are held of you in narrow chains,
Sought for our beauty thro' our folly raised
One moment to a barren eminence,
To drop in dreary nothingness, amazed;

We, dwarfed to suit the measure of your pride,
Thwarted in all our pleasures and our powers,
Have yet a sad, majestic recompense,
The dignity of suffering, that is ours.

The proudest of you lives not but he wrung
A woman's unresisting form with pain,
While the long nurture of your helpless years
Brought back the bitter childbirth throes again.

We wait upon your fancies, watch your will,
Study your pleasure, oft with trembling heart,-
Of the success and glory of your lives
Ye think it grace to yield the meanest part.

Ev'n Nature, partial mother, reasons thus:
"To these the duty, and to those the right";
Our faithful service earns us sufferance,
But we shall love you in our own despite.

To you, the thrilling meed of praise belongs,
To us, the painfuller desert may fall;
We touch the brim, where ye exhaust the bowl,
But where ye pay your due, we yield our all.

Honour all women - weigh with reverend hand
The worth of those unproved, or overtried,
And, when ye praise the perfect work of One,
Say not, ye are shamed in her, but glorified.

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