Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE RED-HAIRED MAN'S WIFE, by JAMES STEPHENS

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE RED-HAIRED MAN'S WIFE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I have taken that vow
Last Line: Still are secret; unreached, and untouched, and not subject to you.
Subject(s): Women's Rights; Feminism

I have taken that vow!
And you were my friend
But yesterday -- Now
All that's at an end;
And you are my husband, and claim me, and I must depend!

Yesterday I was free!
Now you, as I stand,
Walk over to me
And take hold of my hand;
You look at my lips! Your eyes are too bold, your smile is too bland!

My old name is lost;
My distinction of race!
Now, the line has been crossed,
Must I step to your pace?
Must I walk as you list, and obey, and smile up in your face?

All the white and the red
Of my cheeks you have won!
All the hair of my head!
And my feet, tho' they run,
Are yours, and you own me and end me, just as I begun!

Must I bow when you speak!
Be silent and hear;
Inclining my cheek
And incredulous ear
To your voice, and command, and behest; hold your lightest wish dear!

I am woman! But still
Am alive, and can feel
Every intimate thrill
That is woe or is weal:
I, aloof, and divided, apart, standing far, can I kneel?

Oh, if kneeling were right,
I should kneel nor be sad!
And abase in your sight
All the pride that I had!
I should come to you, hold to you, cling to you, call to you, glad!

If not, I shall know,
I shall surely find out!
And your world will throw
In disaster and rout!
I am woman, and glory, and beauty; I, mystery, terror and doubt!

I am separate still!
I am I and not you!
And my mind and my will,
As in secret they grew,
Still are secret; unreached, and untouched, and not subject to you.

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