The right of a rose
In its own sweet, separate way,
With none to question the perfumed pink
And none to utter a nay
If it reaches a root or points, a thorn, as even a rose-tree may.
The right of the lady-birch
To grow as the Lord shall please,
By never a sturdy oak rebuked,
Denied nor sun nor breeze,
For all its pliant slenderness, kin to the stronger trees.
The right to a life
of my own,—
Not merely a casual bit
Of somebody else’s life, flung out
That, taking hold of it,
I may stand as a cipher does after a numeral writ.
The right to gather
What food I need and can
From the garnered store of knowledge
Which man has heaped for man,
Taking with free hands freely and after an ordered plan.
best and sweetest!—
To stand all undismayed
Whenever sorrow or want or sin
Call for a woman’s aid,
With none to call or question, by never a look gainsaid.
I do not ask for a ballot;
Though very life were at stake,
I would beg for the nobler justice
That men for manhood’s sake
Should give ungrudgingly, nor withhold till I must fight and take.
The fleet foot and the
Both seek the self-same goal,
The weakest soldier’s name is writ
On the great army-roll,
And God, who made man’s body strong, made too the woman’s soul
I sit at evening’s scented close,
In fulness of the summer-tide;
All dewy fair the lily glows,
No single petal of the row;
Has fallen to dim the rose’s pride.
Sweet airs, sweet harmonies of hue,
Surround, caress me everywhere;
The spells of dusk, the spells of dew,
My senses steal, my reason woo,
And sing a lullaby to tare,
But vainly do the warm airs sing,
All vain the roses’ rapturous breath;
A chill blast, as from wintry wing,
Smites on my heart, and, shuddering,
I see the beauty changed to death.
Afar I see it loom and rise,
That pitiless and icy shape.
It blots the blue, it dims the skies;
Amid the summer land it cries,
“I come, and there is no escape!”
O, bitter drop in bloom and sweet!
O, canker on the smiling day!
Have we but climbed the hill to meet
Thy fronting fare, thy eyes of sleet?
To hate, yet dare not turn away?
I sit beneath a leaden sky,
Amid the piled and drifted snow;
My feet are on the graves where lie
The roses which made haste to die
So long, so very long ago.