THE YOUNGER BORN

   The modern English-speaking young girl is the astonishment of the world and the despair of the older generation.  Nothing like her has ever been seen or heard before.  Alike in drawing-rooms and the amusement places of the people, she defies long-established conventions in dress, speech, and conduct.  She is bold, yet not immoral.  She is immodest, yet she is chaste.  She has no ideals, yet she is kind and generous.  She is an anomaly and a paradox.

We are the little daughters of Time and the World, his wife;
We are not like the children born in their younger life;
We are marred with our mother's follies and torn with our father's strife.

We are the little daughters of the modern World
   And Time, her spouse.
   She had brought many children to our father's house
Before we came, when both our parents were content
With simple pleasures and with quiet, homely ways.
   Modest and mild
Were the fair daughters born to them in those fair days,
   Modest and mild.

But Father Time grew restless and longed for a swifter pace,
And our mother pushed out beside him at the cost of her tender grace,
And life was no more living, but just a headlong race.

And we are wild--
   Yea, wild are we, the younger born of the World.
   Into life's vortex hurled.
With the milk of our mother's breast
We drank her own unrest,
   And we learned our speech from Time,
   Who scoffs at the things sublime.
Time and the World have hurried so,
They could not help their younger born to grow.
We only follow, follow where they go.

They left their high ideals behind them as they ran;
There was but one goal--pleasure for Woman or for Man,
And they robbed the nights of slumber to lengthen the days' brief span.

We are the demi-virgins of the modern day;
   All evil on the earth is known to us in thought,
   But yet we do it not.
   We bare our beauteous bodies to the gaze of men;
   We lure them, tempt them, lead them on, and then
Lightly we turn away.
By strong, compelling passion we are never stirred:
To us it is a word--
A word much used when tragic tales are told.
We are the younger born, yet we are very old
 In understanding, and our knowledge makes us bold.
 Boldly we look at life,
 Loving its stress and strife,
 And hating all conventions that may mean restraint,
 Yet shunning sin's black taint.

We know wine's taste;
   And the young-maiden bloom and sweetness of our lips
   Is often in eclipse,
      Under the brown weed's stain.
Yet we are chaste.
      We have no large capacity for joy or pain,
But an insatiable appetite for pleasure.
We have no use for leisure,
And never learned the meaning of that word "repose."
Life, as it goes,
Must spell excitement for us, be the cost what may.
Speeding along the way,
We ofttimes pause to do some generous little deed
And fill the cup of need;
For we are kind at heart,
   Though with less heart than head.
   Unmoral, not immoral, when the worst is said,
  We are the product of the modern day.

We are the little daughters of Time and the World, his wife;
We are not like the children born in their younger life;
We are marred with our mother's follies and torn with our father's strife.

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company, 1916.


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