"The Need of the Hour"
With sabers gleaming ready for the fight;
Not increased navies, skillful and commanding;
To bound the waters with an iron might;
Not haughty men with glutted purses trying
To purchase souls, and keep the power of the place;
Not jeweled dolls with one another vying
For palms of beauty, elegance, and grace.
But we want women, strong of soul, yet lowly
With that rare meekness, born of gentleness;
Women whose lives are pure and clean and holy,
The women whom all little children bless;
Brave, earnest women, helpful to each other,
With finest scorn for all things low and mean;
Women who hold the names of wife and mother
Far nobler than the title of a queen.
Oh! These are they who mould the men of story,
These mothers, oftime shorn of grace and youth,
Who, worn and weary, ask no greater glory
Than making some young soul the home of truth;
Who sow in hearts all fallow for the sowing
The seeds of virtue and of scorn for sin,
And, patient, watch the beauteous harvest growing
And weed out tares which crafty hands cast in.
Women who do not hold the gift of beauty
As some rare treasure to be bought and sold,
But guard it as a precious aid to duty—
The outer framing of the inner gold;
Women who, low above their cradles bending,
Let flattery's voice go by, and give no heed,
While their pure prayers like incense are ascending
These are our country's pride, our country's need.
-Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)