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A Ballad Of Fair Ladies In Revolt
by [?]


– Ah! sir, our worshipped posture we perchance
Shall not abandon, though we see not how,
Being to that lamp-post fixed, we may advance
Beside our lords in any real degree,
Unless we move: and to advance is now
A sovereign need, think more than we.


– So push you out of harbour in small craft,
With little seamanship; and comes a gale,
The world will laugh, the world has often laughed,
Lady, to see how bold when skies are blue,
When black winds churn the deeps how panic-pale,
How swift to the old nest fly you!


– What thinks your friend, kind sir? We have escaped
But partly that old half-tamed wild beast’s paw
Whereunder woman, the weak thing, was shaped:
Men, too, have known the cramping enemy
In grim brute force, whom force of brain shall awe:
Him our deliverer, await we!


– Delusions are with eloquence endowed,
And yours might pluck an angel from the spheres
To play in this revolt whereto you are vowed,
Deliverer, lady! but like summer dew
O’er fields that crack for rain your friends drop tears,
Who see the awakening for you.


– Is he our friend, there silent? he weeps not.
O sir, delusion mounting like a sun
On a mind blank as the white wife of Lot,
Giving it warmth and movement! if this be
Delusion, think of what thereby was won
For men, and dream of what win we.


– Lady, the destiny of minor powers,
Who would recast us, is but to convulse:
You enter on a strife that frets and sours;
You can but win sick disappointment’s hue;
And simply an accelerated pulse,
Some tonic you have drunk moves you.


– Thinks your friend so? Good sir, your wit is bright;
But wit that strives to speak the popular voice,
Puts on its nightcap and puts out its light.
Curfew, would seem your conqueror’s decree
To women likewise: and we have no choice
Save darkness or rebellion, we!


– A plain safe intermediate way is cleft
By reason foiling passion: you that rave
Of mad alternatives to right and left
Echo the tempter, madam: and ’tis due
Unto your sex to shun it as the grave,
This later apple offered you.


– This apple is not ripe, it is not sweet;
Nor rosy, sir, nor golden: eye and mouth
Are little wooed by it; yet we would eat.
We are somewhat tired of Eden, is our plea.
We have thirsted long; this apple suits our drouth:
‘Tis good for men to halve, think we.


– But say, what seek you, madam? ‘Tis enough
That you should have dominion o’er the springs
Domestic and man’s heart: those ways, how rough,
How vile, outside the stately avenue
Where you walk sheltered by your angel’s wings,
Are happily unknown to you.


– We hear women’s shrieks on them. We like your phrase,
Dominion domestic! And that roar,
‘What seek you?’ is of tyrants in all days.
Sir, get you something of our purity
And we will of your strength: we ask no more.
That is the sum of what seek we.


– O for an image, madam, in one word,
To show you as the lightning night reveals,
Your error and your perils: you have erred
In mind only, and the perils that ensue
Swift heels may soften; wherefore to swift heels
Address your hopes of safety you!


– To err in mind, sir . . . your friend smiles: he may!
To err in mind, if err in mind we can,
Is grievous error you do well to stay.
But O how different from reality
Men’s fiction is! how like you in the plan,
Is woman, knew you her as we!