Inez Milholland Boissevain
We do not talk of martyrs, no, not we
Who daily watch the long and bloody toll
Taken by war and industry, and see
How common is this gallantry of soul;
We do not talk of martyrs, we who plead
To share the duties of a human lot,
Who hold the faith that Truth and Honour lead
Along a path where women falter not;
We do not talk of martyrs; yet when one
So young, so eager, and so brave departs,
Her cause unconquered, and her task undone,
A sacred bitterness is in our hearts!
How long must we be patient under wrong?
Alas, my countrymen, how long, how long!
To the New Converts
Ladies, whose conversions date
Who but now have understood
That the cause of womanhood
Is not alien, and unknown,
But your own.
Ladies, who can recollect,
That you once stood by and mocked,
And were elegant and shocked,
And were haughty and remote
From the vote.
Just because in bygone years
Your own sneers,
Your own clinging with such passion
To the side you thought the fashion
Made the work so hard to do
For the few.
Now, when everything is pleasant,
As at present,
Now that ridicule is not
Universally our lot,
Now that every public man
Tries to please us all he can,
Ladies, don't you think you owe
More, because you were so slow?
Just because you used to shirk,
Get to work!
Fable of the Bird and the Sages
Some Eastern prophets, elderly and sage,
Were walking in a wood one summer day,
When suddenly they came upon a cage
Holding a long-winged bird of plumage gay;
And, as this seemed to them a curious thing,
They sat down to discuss it in a ring.
They made their discourse under headings three:
First, was the cage its natural habitat?
Next, could it fly, if they should set it free?
Last, would it change, then, to a mole or cat?
Each had a theory, evolved or heard,
On the essential nature of a bird.
The argument continued many years,
Until one day a youth came strolling by,
To whom they told their questions and their fears.
"Easy to answer them," he made reply.
"Easy!" cried they. "How can you take it thus?
How can you answer what is hid from us?"
"Like this," said he, "and all your wisdom's store
Would never find so clear an answer, friends."
And, stepping to the cage's gilded door,
He opened it. And there the story ends.
The moral is: To know if birds will fly,
The surest method is to let them try.
Good-bye, Old Year, you were a teacher stern
In aim, and in your method most severe,
Yet every lesson you have made us learn
Will shape the story of the coming year;
How those first precepts of our country's youth,
Though we have heard they were an empty phrase,
Are still to many men a living truth
By which democracy must guide her ways;
You taught us, not our friends and foes alone,
But how friends hinder, and how foes may aid;
You taught us what ourselves had never known—
Our strength; you taught us not to be afraid;
But most you taught that freedom has a price,
And comes, but comes not without sacrifice.
New Year's Resolutions for Suffragists
- That we are working for suffrage because of our own convictions on the subject, and not as a personal favour to the chairman of some committee.
- That no one else is ideally fitted to do the job assigned to us, so we might as well attend to it ourselves.
- That no one else will suffer any less in doing it than we do; they may talk less about their suffering.
- That, as some day we shall undoubtedly say: "Yes, I was one of the women who worked hard for suffrage," we might as well work hard.
- That it is unnecessary to be either apologetic or antagonistic about the cause, but if we must be one or the other, the latter is preferable.
- That the only way to get rest from suffrage work is to get suffrage.
Reflections of a Suffragist
And Perhaps of an Anti
If my heart sinks at thought of a campaign
It is not that I'm lazy, that I shirk
It is not that it makes me faint and weak
Nor that I find it such a horrid plague
Not that I fear the strain of being quite
To many whom I'd so much rather smite,
It isn't even that I hate and fear
The "facts" of our opponents year by year;
But, dear, oh, dear,
It is the weary things that day by day
I'll have to say;
The things the voters ought to know, and don't,
About democracy, the home, the wife,
The mother's life,
Responsibility, the schools, pure food,
That's the necessity that I deplore—
Saying once more
The things that every one has said before.
My, what a bore!
Rules for Delegates
When ladies in convention meet
They must be civil, suave and sweet,
Must all be lovely to each other
And never say a word like "bother,"
For if one woman should be heard
To use that short, improper word,
It would be proof, you must admit,
That every woman was unfit.
When ladies in convention meet
Their harmony must be complete;
United they must think the same
Of every method, date and aim,
For if they do not all agree
They are not ready to be free.
You never knew a man's convention
Distracted by the least dissension.
When ladies in convention meet
They must be handsome, young and neat;
That is, if they would not forget
The precedents that men have set;
For men's conventions do their duty
By calmness, harmony and beauty.
Just wait until next June and you
Can see if what I say is true.
- April, 1916.
A Mother to Her Son
On His Request for a Latchkey
Why should you want a key, dearie,
What do you want it for?
Mother is always ready and glad
To get up and open the door.
If you'd a latchkey, Georgie,
Mightn't it just destroy
The charm of the whole relation
Between a mother and boy?
A woman likes her offspring
To cling, and who can tell—
If you could open the door yourself
I might not love you as well.
Waiting upon you, Georgie,
Is such a pleasure to me,
I shouldn't enjoy life half so much
If you were given a key.
You think that's rather selfish?
Georgie, my dear, please note,
It's word for word what you said to me
Of giving women the vote.
The ballot you think is different
To giving a boy a key?
Well, think it over again, my son,
And see if we can't agree.
When wives were quite unprecedented
In Eden, where that fruit tree grew;
When Eve, that is, was just invented
And even Man was rather new,
A good idea occurred to Adam,
A theory and a practice, too;
"Your sphere," he said, "will be, dear Madam,
To bear the blame for what I do."
A Possible Solution
Ladies, who of course admire
Now and then,)
Flowery phrases, words of fire,
On the lips of public men,
Never feel the least compunction
For an unction
Admiration is your function,
Blandishment your highest sphere.
Praise us always to our faces,
But in cases,
Praise us less in public places,
And at home a little more.
John T. May
Into the office of John T. May
A suffragist came on his busy day.
"I've come to ask of you, sir," said she,
"What may your views on suffrage be?"
The great man scowled, as a great man should,
Facing rebellious womanhood.
"This interview," he said, "is closed.
I am unalterably opposed."
"At least," said she, "you'll consent to say
Why you oppose us, Mr. May."
The great man raised his hand in the air:
"While sun and moon are shining there,
While man looks up to the azure dome,
So long will the woman's place be home."
The suffragist did not blanch or blink,
She did not tremble or start or shrink.
She said: "Well, well, it must be confessed
Your thought is admirably expressed,
Forceful, coherent, and clear as day,
But will you stand by it, Mr. May?"
Never has printed page conveyed
The wonderful speech the great man made.
He spoke of policemen and charm and strength,
Of Nature's purpose he spoke at length,
He mentioned the Pilgrims' high intent,
Referred again to the firmament,
To angels and mothers, and queens and wives,
To the Bible, the flag and soldiers' lives,
To pedestals, roses and Bunker Hill,
And something he said of Jack and Jill.
Never a book of rhetoric teaches
So grand a speech among all the speeches.
Grave was the look on the stranger's face,
And she eyed her host for a minute's space.
Then she answered: "I see you are quite sincere
In the views you hold of woman's sphere;
Therefore I'll tell you before I go
Something the world will shortly know:
This is our secret, this is our news:
Most of us women share your views!"
The great man smiled, in a great wise way.
"I always knew it," said John T. May.
"Yes, home is our place," said she, "we know,
Now we intend to make it so.
Back to the home for womanhood;
That is our motto."
And May said: "Good!"
Then the suffragist went on to tell
How their league was organised very well.
"Every girl in your factory, sir,
Feels that home is the place for her;
There she will go on a certain day,
Not a wheel will turn "
"Hold on," said May,
"That seems to me a different case."
"But why, if home is the woman's place?
Your filing clerks, and your typist, too,
Your telephone girls all think like you.
The women teachers, thousands strong,
Think they have left the home too long.
The libraries will all be closed and then
The stage will be peopled by men — just men.
All the women who sell in shops,
All the women who clean with mops,
Cooks and housemaids will all obey
The wonderful words of John T. May."
Silent awhile the great man stood,
And really thought, as a great man should;
Thought for the first time clearly and rightly
About that phrase he had used so lightly;
Saw, though he hadn't before conceived it.
As a matter of fact he'd never believed it,
Never had thought of their homes, 'twas true,
If he had work for women to do.
And his smile was sudden and shrewd and gay:
"I get you, madam," said John T. May.
A Patriotic Hymn for Girls
Come, little girls, and let me teach
The truths of Independence Day,
Lest patriotic song and speech
Should lead your little minds astray,
Lest you should fancy you would be
Extolled for wishing to be free.
You've learnt whence governments derive
Their powers—their just powers, rather;
And how your fathers had to strive
(But never imitate your father),
And how we've all enjoyed since then
Democracy—at least for men.
Learn now that each familiar phrase
Does not refer to such as you,
And when you sing your country's lays
Amend them thus, to make them true:
"Let freedom reign"—o'er all our brothers;
"Sweet land of liberty"—for others.