An old-fashioned type

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

For ‘Mabel Brown’ I never cared
    (My rightful name by birth),
But when the name of Smith I shared,
   I seemed to own the earth,
(I wrote it without ‘y’ or ‘e’ -
Plain ‘Mrs. Jack Smith’ suited me.)

My happiest hour, as I look back
   On times of great content,
Was when folks called me ‘Mrs. Jack,’
   Though ‘Mrs. Smith’ was meant.
It was the pleasure of my life
To hear them say: ‘That’s Jack Smith’s wife.’

One day I joined a club. They said
   That I must speak or write.
So I did both. I wrote and read
   A speech one fateful night.
It made a hit, but proved, alack,
A death blow to poor ‘Mrs. Jack.’

As ‘Mrs. Mabel Smith’ I’m known
   Throughout my town and State;
My heart feels widowed and alone;
   The case is intricate.
Though darling Jack is mine, the same,
I am divorced somehow in name.

Just ‘Mabel Smith’ I can endure;
   It leaves the world in doubt;
But ‘Mrs.’ makes the marriage sure,
   Yet leaves the husband out.
It sounds like Reno, or the tomb,
And always fills me full of gloom.

They say the honours are all mine;
   Well, I would trade the pack
For one sweet year in which to shine
   Again as ‘Mrs. Jack.’
That gave to life a core, a pith,
Not found by ‘Mrs. Mabel Smith.’

For one suggests the chosen mate,
   And all the joy love brings;
And one suggests a delegate
   To federated things.
I’m built upon the old-time plan -
I like to supplement a man.

If on each point of glory’s star
   My name shone like a pearl,
I’d feel a pleasure greater far
   In being ‘Jack Smith’s girl.’
It is ridiculous, I know,
But then, you see, I’m fashioned so.

 
from Poems of Optimism by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919)

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