Since first she was set in the path of duty,
Finished and fair by the hand of God,
To carry her message of love and beauty.
Delicate creature of light and shade,
She gleamed like an opal, on wide worlds under:
And earth looked up to her half afraid,
While heaven looked down at her, full of wonder.
Flame of the comet and mist of the moon,
And ray of the sun all mingled in her.
And the heart of her asked but a single boon -
That love should seek her, and find her, and win her.
She grasped the scope of the First Intent
That made her kingdom for her, no other,
And joyfully into her place she went -
The primal mate, and the primal mother.
Large was that kingdom and vast her sphere,
And lightly she lifted and bore each burden.
Lightly she laughed in the eyes of fear,
For love was her recompense, love her guerdon.
And never in camp, or in cave, or in home,
Rose voice of mother or mate complaining.
And never the foot of her sought to roam,
Till love in the heart of the man seemed waning.
In the broad rich furrows by woman turned
Man, unwitting, set plough and harrow.
For worlds to conquer she had not yearned,
Till he spoke of her feminine sphere as ‘narrow.’
The lullaby changed to a martial strain -
When he took her travail, and song for granted -
And forth she forged in his own domain -
Till the strange ‘new woman,’ the old supplanted.
‘Strange’ with the glow of a wakened soul,
And ‘new’ with the purpose of large endeavour,
She turned her face to the higher goal -
To the higher goal it is turned for ever.
Trade and science and craft and art,
Have opened their doors to the call of woman;
And greater she grows in her greater part,
More tenderly wise, and more sweetly human.
Brave foremothers of freedom’s birth
Smile through space on your splendid daughters.
At one with liberty lighting the earth,
Their torches flame o’er the darkest waters.
They lend a lustre to sea and land:
They sweeten the world with their wholesome graces:
As out in the harbour of life they stand
To cheer and welcome the coming races.
Brave forefathers and heroes who fought
Under the flag of the Revolution,
War was the price of the freedom you bought,
But peace is the watchword of Evolution.
The progress of woman means progress of peace,
She wars on war, and its hosts alarming;
And her great love battle will never cease,
Till the glory is seen of a world disarming.
The woman wonder with heart of flame,
The coming man of the race will find her.
For petty purpose and narrow aim,
And fault and flaw she will leave behind her.
He grown tender, and she grown wise,
They shall enter the Eden by both created;
The broadened kingdom of Paradise,
And love, and mate, as the first pair mated.
Esther Wheeler Wilcox