THE NEED

This Age of Woman has produced a race
That sets the very gods agape in space,
And keeps our small world wondering 'what next';
Yet not so often now the cry, 'Unsexed!'
Falls on our ears. The death is very slow
Of old traditions, yet at last they go
Into the vault of time.

                                        Woman has risen
    Out of her kitchen-prison,
Out of the sewing-room environment
Into the larger world, where she was meant
To be man's comrade and co-worker. Art,
Commerce, and science, all proclaim the part--
The noble part the modern woman plays--
And never in the old-time house-drudge days
Was she so fitted for the rôle of wife
And mother as in this new-knowledged life,
Where babies grow like plants, if like plants fed,
    And like plants bred
    From virile seeds.
A motherhood has come the whole world needs.

But there is something else this world of noise
Needs just now sadly--one of its best joys--
The restful woman, who, amidst earth's riot,
    Is eloquently quiet,
Knowing that stillness means not being dull,
But like the sunshine, bright and beautiful,
And warm with tender, life-producing forces.
    The stars upon their courses
Move quietly; the music of the spheres
Is so attuned it does not hurt the ears
Of listening angels; but the thunder's clatter,
    The noise of winds that scatter
The quivering leaves of meditative trees,
    The loud-mouthed seas,
Telling their deeds of violence--all these
Weary the listening, pained heart of earth.

Sad and protesting is the cry of birth,
Awesome the silent majesty of death.
The silence following that last-drawn breath
We know is opulent with God. No sound
Can ever hold such meaning vast, profound.

Between the rivers and the seas of talk
    Let us plant islands of sweet silences,
Where weary voyagers may pause and walk
    And know that there God is.

Poems of affection. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1920.


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