To Men

Sirs, when you pity us, I say

You waste your pity. Let it stay,

Well corked and stored upon your shelves,

Until you need it for yourselves.

We do appreciate God’s thought

In forming you, before He brought

Us into life. His art was crude,

But oh, so virile in its rude

Large elemental strength: and then

He learned His trade in making men;

Learned how to mix and mould the clay

And fashion in a finer way.

How fine that skillful way can be 

You need but lift your eyes to see; 

And we are glad God placed you there 

To lift your eyes and find us fair. 

Apprentice labour though you were, 

He made you great enough to stir 

The best and deepest depths of us, 

And we are glad he made you thus. 

Ay! we are glad of many things. 

God strung our hearts with such fine strings 

The least breath moves them, and we hear 

Music where silence greets your ear. 

We suffer so? but women’s souls 

Like violet powder dropped on coals, 

Give forth their best in anguish. Oh, 

The subtle secrets that we know, 

Of joy in sorrow, strange delights 

Of ecstasy in pain-filled nights, 

And mysteries of gain in loss 

Known but to Christ upon the Cross! 

Our tears are pitiful to you? 

Look how the heaven-reflecting dew 

Dissolves its life in tears. The sand 

Meanwhile lies hard upon the strand. 

How could your pity find a place 

For us, the mothers of the race? 

Men may be fathers unaware, 

So poor the title is you wear, 

But mothers -? Who that crown adorns 

Knows all its mingled blooms and thorns; 

And she whose feet that path hath trod 

Has walked upon the heights with God. 

No, offer us not pity’s cup. 

There is no looking down or up 

Between us: eye looks straight in eye: 

Born equals, so we live and die.

Written By Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

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