Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LYSISTRATA: HOW THE WOMEN WILL STOP WAR, by ARISTOPHANES



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LYSISTRATA: HOW THE WOMEN WILL STOP WAR, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: You, I presume, could adroitly and gingerly
Last Line: Then.
Subject(s): War; Women


MAGISTRATE. LYSISTRATA

MAG.

You, I presume, could adroitly and gingerly settle this intricate, tangled
concern:

LYS.

You in a trice could relieve our perplexities. Certainly.

MAG.

How? Permit me to learn.

LYS.

Just as a woman, with nimble dexterity, thus with her hands disentangles a
skein,
Hither and thither her spindles unravel it, drawing it out, and pulling it
plain.
So would this weary Hellenic entanglement soon be resolved by our womanly care,
So would our embassies neatly unravel it, drawing it here and pulling it there.

MAG.

Wonderful, marvellous feats, not a doubt of it, you with your skeins and your
spindles can show:
Fools! do you really expect to unravel a terrible war like a bundle of tow?

LYS.

Ah, if you only could manage your politics just in the way that we deal with a
fleece!

MAG.

Tell us the recipe.

LYS.

First, in the washing-tub plunge it, and scour it, and cleanse it
from grease,
Purging away all the filth and the nastiness; then on the table expand it and
lay,
Beating out all that is worthless and mischievous, picking the burrs and the
thistles away.
Next, for the clubs, the cabals, and the coteries, banding unrighteously, office
to win,
Treat them as clots in the wool, and dissever them, lopping the heads that are
forming therein.
Then you should card it, and comb it, and mingle it, all in one Basket of love
and of unity,
Citizens, visitors, strangers, and sojourners, all the entire, undivided
community.
Know you a fellow in debt to the Treasury? Mingle him merrily in with the rest.
Also remember the cities, our colonies, outlying states in the east and the
west,
Scattered about to a distance surrounding us, these are our shreds and our
fragments of wool;
These to one mighty political aggregate tenderly, carefully, gather and pull,
Twining them all in one thread of good fellowship; thence a magnificent bobbin
to spin,
Weaving a garment of comfort and dignity, worthily wrapping the People therein.

MAG.

Heard any ever the like of their impudence, those who have nothing to do with
the war,
Preaching of bobbins, and beatings, and washing-tubs?

LYS.

Nothing to do with it, wretch that you are!
We are the people who feel it the keenliest, doubly on us the affliction is
cast;
Where are the sons that we sent to your battle-fields?

MAG.

Silence! a truce to the ills that are past.

LYS.

Then in the glory and grace of our womanhood, all in the May and the morning of
life,
Lo, we are sitting forlorn and disconsolate, what has a soldier to do with a
wife?
We might endure it, but ah! for the younger ones, still in their maiden
apartments they stay,
Waiting the husband that never approaches them, watching the years that are
gliding away.

MAG.

Men, I suppose, have their youth everlastingly.

LYS.

Nay, but it isn't the same with a man:
Grey though he be when he comes from the battlefield, still if he wishes to
marry, he can.
Brief is the spring and the flower of our womanhood, once let it slip, and it
comes not again;
Sit as we may with our spells and our auguries, never a husband will marry us
then.





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