To The Indifferent Women
You who are happy in a thousand homes,
Or overworked therein, to a dumb peace;
Whose souls are wholly centered in the life
Of that small group you personally love–
Who told you that you need not know or care
About the sin and sorrow of the world?
Do you believe the sorrow of the world
Does not concern you in your little homes?
That you are licensed to avoid the care
And toil for human progress, human peace,
And the enlargement of our power of love
Until it covers every field of life?
The one first duty of all human life
Is to promote the progress of the world
In righteousness, in wisdom, truth and love;
And you ignore it, hidden in your homes,
Content to keep them in uncertain peace,
Content to leave all else without your care.
Yet you are mothers! And a mother's care
Is the first step towards friendly human life.
Life where all nations in untroubled peace
Unite to raise the standard of the world
And make the happiness we seek in homes
Spread everywhere in strong and fruitful love.
You are content to keep that mighty love
In its first steps forever; the crude care
Of animals for mate and young and homes,
Instead of poring it abroad in life,
Its mighty current feeding all the world
Till every human child shall grow in peace.
You cannot keep your small domestic peace,
Your little pool of undeveloped love,
While the neglected, starved, unmothered world
Struggles and fights for lack of mother's care,
And its tempestuous, bitter, broken life
Beats in upon you in your selfish homes.
We all may have our homes in joy and peace
When woman's life, in its rich power of love
Is joined with man's to care for all the world!
She beats upon her bolted door,
With faint weak hands;
Drearily walks the narrow floor;
Sullenly sits, blank walls before;
Life calls her, Duty, Pleasure, Gain–
Her dreams respond;
But the blank daylights wax and wane,
Dull peace, sharp agony, slow pain–
No hope beyond.
Till she comes a thought! She lifts her head,
The world grows wide!
A voice–as if clear words were said–
'Your door, O long imprisonéd,
Is locked inside!'
Boys Will Be Boys
'Boys will be boys,' and boys have had their day;
Boy-mischief and boy-carelessness and noise
Extenuated all, allowed, excused and smoothed away,
Each duty missed, each damaging wild act,
By this meek statement of unquestioned fact–
Boys will be boys!
Now, 'women will be women.' Mark the change;
Calm motherhood in place of boisterous youth;
No warfare now; to manage and arrange,
To nurture with wise care, is woman's way,
In peace and fruitful industry her sway,
In love and truth.
Here is the House to hold me–cradle of all the race;
Here is my lord and my love, here are my children dear–
Here is the House enclosing, the dear-loved dwelling place;
Why should I ever weary for aught that I find not here?
Here for the hours of the day and the hours of the night;
Bound with the bands of Duty, rivetted tight;
Duty older than Adam–Duty that saw
Acceptance utter and hopeless in the eyes of the serving squaw.
Food and the serving of food–that is my daylong care;
What and when we shall eat, what and how we shall wear;
Soiling and cleaning of things–that is my task in the main–
Soil them and clean them and soil them–soil them and clean them again.
To work at my trade by the dozen and never a trade to know;
To plan like a Chinese puzzle–fitting and changing so;
To think of a thousand details, each in a thousand ways;
For my own immediate people and a possible love and praise.
My mind is trodden in circles, tiresome, narrow and hard,
Useful, commonplace, private–simply a small backyard;
And I the Mother of Nations!–Blind their struggle and vain!
I cover the earth with my children–each with a housewife's brain.
We As Women
There's a cry in the air about us–
We hear it, before, behind–
Of the way in which 'We, as women,'
Are going to lift mankind!
With our white frocks starched and ruffled,
And our soft hair brushed and curled–
Hats off! for 'We, as women,'
Are coming to save the world.
Fair sisters! listen one moment–
And perhaps you'll pause for ten:
The business of women as women
Is only with men as men!
What we do, 'We, as women,'
We have done all through our life;
The work that is ours as women
Is the work of mother and wife.
But to elevate public opinion,
And to lift up erring man,
Is the work of the Human Being;
Let us do it–if we can.
But wait, warm-hearted sisters–
Not quite so fast, so far.
Tell me how we are going to lift a thing
Any higher than we are!
We are going to 'purify politics,'
And to 'elevate the press.'
We enter the foul paths of the world
To sweeten and cleanse and bless.
To hear the high things we are going to do,
And the horrors of man we tell,
One would think, 'We, as women,' were angels,
And our brothers were fiends of hell.
We, that were born of one mother,
And reared in the self-same place,
In the school and the church together,
We of one blood, one race!
Now then, all forward together!
But remember, every one,
That 'tis not by feminine innocence
The work of the world is done.
The world needs strength and courage,
And wisdom to help and feed–
When, 'We, as women' bring these to man,
We shall lift the world indeed.
- Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman