THE SPINSTER

Here are the orchard trees all large with fruit;
And yonder fields are golden with young grain.
In little journeys, branchward from the nest,
A mother bird, with sweet insistent cries,
Urges her young to use their untried wings.
A purring Tabby, stretched upon the sward,
Shuts and expands her velvet paws in joy,
While sturdy kittens nuzzle at her breast.

O mighty Maker of the Universe,
Am I not part and parcel of Thy World,
And one with Nature? Wherefore, then, in me
Must this great reproductive impulse lie
Hidden, ashamed, unnourished, and denied,
Until it starves to slow and tortuous death?
I knew the hope of springtime; like the tree
Now ripe with fruit, I budded, and then bloomed;
We laughed together through the young May morns;
We dreamed together through the summer moons;
Till all Thy purposes within the tree
Were to fruition brought. Lord, Thou hast heard
The Woman in me crying for the Man;
The Mother in me crying for the Child;
And made no answer. Am I less to Thee
Than lower forms of Nature, or in truth
Dost Thou hold Somewhere in another Realm
Full compensation and large recompense
For lonely virtue forced by fate to live
A life unnatural, in a natural world?

Thou who hast made for such sure purposes
The mightiest and the meanest thing that is--
Planned out the lives of insects of the air
With fine precision and consummate care,
Thou who hast taught the bee the secret power
Of carrying on love's laws 'twixt flower and flower,

Why didst Thou shape this mortal frame of mine,
If Heavenly joys alone were Thy design?
Wherefore the wonder of my woman's breast,
By lips of lover and of babe unpressed,
If spirit children only shall reply
Unto my ever urgent mother cry?
Why should the rose be guided to its own,
And my love-craving heart beat on alone?

Yet do I understand; for Thou hast made
Something more subtle than this heart of me;
A finer part of me
To be obeyed.

Albeit I am a sister to the earth,
This nature self is not the whole of me;
The deathless soul of me
Has nobler birth.

The primal woman hungers for the man;
My better self demands the mate of me;
The spirit fate of me,
Part of Thy plan.

Nature is instinct with the mother-need;
So is my heart; but ah, the child of me
Should, undefiled of me,
Spring from love's seed.

And if, in barren chastity, I must
Know but in dreams that perfect choice of me,
Still will the voice of me
Proclaim God just.

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


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