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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Woman

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

[Born in Kennett Square, Chester Co., Penn., 1825. Died in Berlin, Germany, 1878. The Poet’s Journal. 1862.—Poetical Works. Household Edition. 1883.]

SHE is a woman: therefore, I a man,

In so much as I love her. Could I more,

Then I were more a man. Our natures ran

Together, brimming full, not flooding o’er

The banks of life, and evermore will run

In one full stream until our days are done.

She is a woman, but of spirit brave

To bear the loss of girlhood’s giddy dreams;

The regal mistress, not the yielding slave

Of her ideal, spurning that which seems

For that which is, and, as her fancies fall,

Smiling: the truth of love outweighs them all.

She looks through life, and with a balance just

Weighs men and things, beholding as they are

The lives of others: in the common dust

She finds the fragments of the ruined star:

Proud, with a pride all feminine and sweet,

No path can soil the whiteness of her feet.

The steady candor of her gentle eyes

Strikes dead deceit, laughs vanity away;

She hath no room for petty jealousies,

Where Faith and Love divide their tender sway.

Of either sex she owns the nobler part;

Man’s honest brow and woman’s faithful heart.

She is a woman, who, if Love were guide,

Would climb to power, or in obscure content

Sit down: accepting fate with changeless pride—

A reed in calm, in storm a staff unbent:

No pretty plaything, ignorant of life,

But Man’s true mother, and his equal wife.