THE SILENT TRAGEDY

The deepest tragedies of life are not
Put into books, or acted on the stage.
Nay, they are lived in silence, by tense hearts
In homes, among dull unperceiving kin,
And thoughtless friends, who make a whip of words
Wherewith to lash these hearts, and call it wit.

There is a tragedy lived everywhere
In Christian lands, by an increasing horde
Of women martyrs to our social laws.
Women whose hearts cry out for motherhood;
Women whose bosoms ache for little heads;
Women God meant for mothers, but whose lives
Have been restrained, restricted, and denied
Their natural channels, till at last they stand
Unmated and alone, by that sad sea
Whose slow receding tide returns no more.
Men meet great sorrows; but no man can grasp
The depth, and height, of such a grief as this.

The call of Fatherhood is from man's brain.
Man cannot know the answer to that call
Save as a woman tells him. But to her
The call of Motherhood is from the soul,
The brain, the body. She is like a plant
Which buds and blossoms only to bear fruit.
Man is the pollen, carried by the wind
Of accident, or impulse, or desire;
And then his rôle of fatherhood is played.
Her threefold knowledge of maternity,
Through three times three great months, is hers alone.

Man as an egotist is wounded when
He is not father. Woman when denied
The all-embracing rôle of motherhood
Rebels with her whole being. Oftentimes
Rebellion finds its only utterance
In shattered nerves, and lack of self-control;
Which gives the merry world its chance to cry
'Old maids are queer.'
                                        In far off Eastern lands
They think of God as Mother to the race;
Father and Mother of the Universe.
And mayhap this is why they make their girls
Wives prematurely, mothers over young,
Hoping to please their Mother God this way.
Since everywhere in Nature sex is shown
For procreative uses, they contend
Sterility is sinful. (Save when one
Chooses a life of Saintship here on earth,
And so conserves all forces to that end.)

Here in the West, our God is Masculine;
And while we say He bade a Virgin bring
His Son to birth, we think of Him as One
Placing false values on forced continence--
Preparing heavens for those who live that life--
And hells for those who stray by thought or act
From the unnatural path our laws have made.

Mother of Christ, thou being woman, thou
Knowing all depths within the woman heart,
All joy, all pain, oh send the world more light.
Enlarge our sympathies; and let our minds
Turn from achievements of material things
To contemplation of Eternal truths.
Space throbs with egos, waiting for rebirth;
And mother-hearted women fill the earth.
Mother of Christ, show us the way to thin
The ranks of childless women, without sin.

Poems of Problems. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
London : Gay and Hancock, 1914.


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