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Burton, Annie L.
Memories of childhood's slavery days

- MY FAVORITE POEMS
- Verses


Verses


You do but jest, sir, and you jest not well.
How could the hand be enemy of the arm,
Or seed and sod be rivals? How could light
Feel jealousy of heat, plant of the leaf,
Or competition dwell 'twixt lip and smile?
Are we not part and parcel of yourselves?
Like strands in one great braid we intertwine
And make the perfect whole. You could not be
Unless we gave you birth: we are the soil
From which you sprang, yet sterile were that soil
Save as you planted. (Though in the Book we read
One woman bore a child with no man's aid,
We find no record of a man-child born
Without the aid of woman! Fatherhood
Is but a small achievement at the best,
While motherhood is heaven and hell.)
This ever-growing argument of sex
Is most unseemly, and devoid of sense.
Why waste more time in controversy, when
There is not time enough for all of love,
Our rightful occupation in this life?
Why prate of our defects--of where we fail,
When just the story of our worth would need
Eternity for telling; and our best
Development comes ever through your praise,
As through our praise you reach your highest self?
Oh! had you not been miser of your praise
And let our virtues be their own reward,
raster
81
The old established order of the world
Would never have been changed. Small blame is ours
For this unsexing of ourselves, and worse
Effeminizing of the male. We were
Content, sir, till you starved us, heart and brain.
All we have done, or wise or otherwise,
Traced to the root, was done for love of you.
Let us taboo all vain comparisons,
And go forth as God meant us, hand in hand,
Companions, mates and comrades evermore;
Two parts of one divinely ordained whole.

    Verses   Table of Contents     Verses