The Tides

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh, vain is the stern protesting
   Of winds, when the tide runs high;
And vainly the deep-sea waters
   Call out, as the waves speed by;
For, deaf to the claim of the ocean,
   To the threat of the loud winds dumb,
Past reef and bar, to shores afar,
   They rush when the hour is come.

Vainly the tempest thunders,
   Of unsexed waves that roam,
Away from the mid-sea calmness,
   Where Nature made their home.
For the voice of the great Moon-Mother,
   Has spoken and said, ‘Be free.’
And the tide must go to the strong full flow,
   In the time of the perigee.

So vain is the cry of the masters,
   And vain the plea of the hearth;
As the ranks of the strange New Woman
   Go sweeping across the earth.
They have come from hall and hovel,
   They have pushed through door and gate;
On the world’s highway they are crowded to-day,
   For the hour is the hour of fate.

Many are hurt in the crowding,
   The light of the home burns dim;
And man is aghast at the changes,
   Though all can be traced to him.
They sat too long at the hearthstone,
   And sat too oft alone:
And the silence spoke, and their souls awoke,
   And now they must claim their own.

Let no man hope to hinder,
   Let no man bid them pause:
They are moved by a hidden purpose,
   They follow resistless laws.
And out of the wreck and chaos
   Of the order that used to be,
A strong new race shall take its place
   In a world we are yet to see.

Oh, ever has man been leader,
   Yet failed as woman’s guide.
It is better that she step forward,
   And take her place at his side.
For only from greater woman,
   May come the greater man,
Through life’s long quest they should walk abreast -
   As was meant by the primal plan.

from Poems of Experience by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1917)

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