The Spinster

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox


   Here are the orchard trees all large with fruit;
   And yonder fields are golden with young grain.
   In little journeys, branchward from the nest,
   A mother bird, with sweet insistent cries,
   Urges her young to use their untried wings.
   A purring Tabby, stretched upon the sward,
   Shuts and expands her velvet paws in joy,
   While sturdy kittens nuzzle at her breast.

   O mighty Maker of the Universe,
   Am I not part and parcel of Thy World,
   And one with Nature? Wherefore, then, in me
   Must this great reproductive impulse lie
   Hidden, ashamed, unnourished, and denied,
   Until it starves to slow and tortuous death?
   I knew the hope of spring-time; like the tree
   Now ripe with fruit, I budded, and then bloomed;
   We laughed together through the young May morns;
   We dreamed together through the summer moons;
   Till all Thy purposes within the tree
   Were to fruition brought. Lord, Thou hast heard
   The Woman in me crying for the Man;
   The Mother in me crying for the Child;
   And made no answer. Am I less to Thee
   Than lover forms of Nature, or in truth
   Dost Thou hold Somewhere in another Realm
   Full compensation and large recompense
   For lonely virtue forced by fate to live
   A life unnatural, in a natural world?


   Thou who hast made for such sure purposes
   The mightiest and the meanest thing that is—
   Planned out the lives of insects of the air
   With fine precision and consummate care,
   Thou who hast taught the bee the secret power
   Of carrying on love’s laws ’twixt flower and flower,
   Why didst Thou shape this mortal frame of mine,
   If Heavenly joys alone were Thy design?
   Wherefore the wonder of my woman’s breast,
   By lips of lover and of babe unpressed,
   If spirit children only shall reply
   Unto my ever urgent mother cry?
   Why should the rose be guided to its own,
   And my love-craving heart beat on alone?


   Yet do I understand; for Thou hast made
   Something more subtle than this heart of me;
   A finer part of me
   To be obeyed.

   Albeit I am a sister to the earth,
   This nature self is not the whole of me;
   The deathless soul of me
   Has nobler birth.

   The primal woman hungers for the man;
   My better self demands the mate of me;
   The spirit fate of me,
   Part of Thy plan.

   Nature is instinct with the mother-need;
   So is my heart; but ah, the child of me
   Should, undefiled of me,
   Spring from love’s seed.

   And if, in barren chastity, I must
   Know but in dreams that perfect choice of me,
   Still will the voice of me
   Proclaim God just.

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