Ella Wheeler Wilcox

5 November 1850 - 30 October 1919 / Johnstown Center / Rock County / Wisconsin

Woman

Give us that grand word ‘woman’ once again,
And let’s have done with ‘lady’: one’s a term
Full of fine force, strong, beautiful, and firm,
Fit for the noblest use of tongue or pen;
And one’s a word for lackeys. One suggests
The Mother, Wife, and Sister! One the dame
Whose costly robe, mayhap, gives her the name,
One word upon its own strength leans and rests;
The other minces tiptoe. Who would be
The perfect woman must grow brave of heart
And broad of soul to play her troubled part
Well in life’s drama. While each day we see
The ‘perfect lady’ skilled in what to do
And what to say, grace in each tone and act
(‘Tis taught in schools, but needs some native tact) ,
Yet narrow in her mind as in her shoe.
Give the first place then to the nobler phrase,
And leave the lesser word for lesser praise.
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