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- Poems of Purpose - 4/12 -
Rank after rank, out of the schoolroom door By Progress mobilised. They seemed to say: 'Let ignorance make way. We are the heralds of a better day.'
I saw the college and the church that stood For all things sane and good. I saw God's helpers in the shop and slum Blazing a path for health and hope to come, And True Religion, from the grave of creeds, Springing to meet man's needs.
I saw great Science reverently stand And listen for a sound from Border-land, No longer arrogant with unbelief - Holding itself aloof - But drawing near, and searching high and low For that complete and all-convincing proof Which shall permit its voice to comfort grief, Saying, 'We know.'
I saw fair women in their radiance rise And trample old traditions in the dust. Looking in their clear eyes, I seemed to hear these words as from the skies: 'He who would father our sweet children must Be worthy of the trust.'
Against the rosy dawn, I saw unfurled The banner of the race we usher in, The supermen and women of the world, Who make no code of sex to cover sin; Before they till the soil of parenthood, They look to it that seed and soil are good.
And I saw, too, that old, old sight, and best - Pure mothers, with dear babies at the breast. These things I saw. (How God must love His earth!)
From the Queen Bee mother, the mother Beast, and the mother Fowl in the fen, A call went up to the human world, to Woman, the mother of men. The call said, 'Come: for we, the dumb, are given speech for a day, And the things we have thought for a thousand years we are going at last to say.'
Much they marvelled, these women of earth, at the strange and curious call, And some of them laughed, and some of them sneered, but they answered it one and all, For they wanted to hear what never before was heard since the world began - The spoken word of Beast and Bird, and the message it held for Man.
'A plea for shelter,' the woman said, 'or food in the wintry weathers, Or a foolish request that we be dressed without their furs or feathers. We will do what we can for the poor dumb things, but they must be sensible.' Then The meeting was called and a she-bear stood and voiced the thought of the fen.
'Now this is the message we give to you' (it was thus the she-bear spake): 'You the creatures of homes and shrines, and we of the wold and brake, We have no churches, we have no schools, and our minds you question and doubt, But we follow the laws which some Great Cause, alike for us all, laid out.
'We eat and we drink to live; we shun the things that poison and kill, And we settle the problems of sex and birth by the law of the female will, For never was one of us known by a male, or made to mother its kind, Unless there went from our minds consent (or from what we call the mind).
'But you, the highest of all she-things, you gorge yourselves at your feasts, And you smoke and drink in a way we think would lower the standard of beasts; For a ring, a roof and a rag, you are bought by your males, to have and to hold, And you mate and you breed without nature's need, while your hearts and your bodies are cold.
'All unwanted your offspring come, or you slay them before they are born; And now the wild she-things of the earth have spoken and told their scorn. We have no mind and we have no souls, maybe as you think--And still, Never one of us ate or drank the things that poison and kill, And never was one of us known by a male except by our wish and will.'
To sit in silence when we should protest Makes cowards out of men. The human race Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised Against injustice, ignorance and lust The Inquisition yet would serve the law And guillotines decide our least disputes. The few who dare must speak and speak again To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God, No vested power in this great day and land Can gag or throttle; Press and voice may cry Loud disapproval of existing ills, May criticise oppression and condemn The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws That let the children and child-bearers toil To purchase ease for idle millionaires. Therefore do I protest against the boast Of independence in this mighty land. Call no chain strong which holds one rusted link, Call no land free that holds one fettered slave. Until the manacled, slim wrists of babes Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee; Until the Mother bears no burden save The precious one beneath her heart; until God's soil is rescued from the clutch of greed And given back to labour, let no man Call this the Land of Freedom.
A BACHELOR TO A MARRIED FLIRT
All that a man can say of woman's charms, Mine eyes have spoken and my lips have told To you a thousand times. Your perfect arms (A replica from that lost Melos mould), The fair firm crescents of your bosom (shown With full intent to make their splendours known),
Your eyes (that mask with innocence their smile), The (artful) artlessness of all your ways, Your kiss-provoking mouth, its lure, its guile - All these have had my fond and frequent praise. And something more than praise to you I gave - Something which made you know me as your slave.
Yet slaves, at times, grow mutinous and rebel. Here in this morning hour, from you apart, The mood is on me to be frank and tell The thoughts long hidden deep down in my heart. These thoughts are bitter--thorny plants, that grew Below the flowers of praise I plucked for you.
Those flowery praises led you to suppose You were my benefactor. Well, in truth, When lovely woman on dull man bestows Sweet favours of her beauty and her youth, He is her debtor. I am yours: and yet You robbed me while you placed me thus in debt.
I owe you for keen moments when you stirred My senses with your beauty, when your eyes (Your wanton eyes) belied the prudent word Your curled lips uttered. You are worldly wise, And while you like to set men's hearts on flame, You take no risks in that old passion-game.
The carnal, common self of dual me Found pleasure in this danger play of yours. (An egotist, man always thinks to be The victor, if his patience but endures, And holds in leash the hounds of fierce desire, Until the silly woman's heart takes fire.)
But now it is the Higher Self who speaks - The Me of me--the inner Man--the real - Whoever dreams his dream and ever seeks To bring to earth his beautiful ideal. That lifelong dream with all its promised joy Your soft bedevilments have helped destroy.
Woman, how can I hope for happy life In days to come at my own nuptial hearth, When you who bear the honoured name of wife So lightly hold the dearest gifts of earth? Descending from your pedestal, alas! You shake the pedestals of all your class.
A vain, flirtatious wife is like a thief Who breaks into the temple of men's souls, And steals the golden vessels of belief, The swinging censers, and the incense bowls. All women seem less loyal and less true, Less worthy of men's faith since I met you.
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