Reply to "A Woman's Question" by Nettie H. Pelham

("A Woman's Question" is given on page 129 of Book I, "Poems Teachers Ask For.")

You say I have asked for the costliest thing
Ever made by the Hand above—
A woman's heart and a woman's life,
And a woman's wonderful love.
 
That I have written your duty out,
And, man-like, have questioned free—
You demand that I stand at the bar of your soul,
While you in turn question me.
 
And when I ask you to be my wife,
The head of my house and home,
Whose path I would scatter with sunshine through life,
Thy shield when sorrow shall come—
 
You reply with disdain and a curl of the lip,
And point to my coat's missing button,
And haughtily ask if I want a cook,
To serve up my beef and my mutton.
 
'Tis a king that you look for. Well, I am not he,
But only a plain, earnest man,
Whose feet often shun the hard path they should tread,
Often shrink from the gulf they should span.
 
'Tis hard to believe that the rose will fade
From the cheek so full, so fair;
'Twere harder to think that a heart proud and cold
Was ever reflected there.
 
True, the rose will fade, and the leaves will fall,
And the Autumn of life will come;
But the heart that I give thee will be true as in May,
Should I make it thy shelter, thy home.
 
Thou requir'st "all things that are good and true;
All things that a man should be";
Ah! lady, my truth, in return, doubt not,
For the rest, I leave it to thee.