My Rights.

A poem by Susan Coolidge

Yes, God has made me a woman,
And I am content to be
Just what He meant, not reaching out
For other things, since He
Who knows me best and loves me most has ordered this for me.

A woman, to live my life out
In quiet womanly ways,
Hearing the far-off battle,
Seeing as through a haze
The crowding, struggling world of men fight through their busy days.

I am not strong or valiant,
I would not join the fight
Or jostle with crowds in the highways
To sully my garments white;
But I have rights as a woman, and here I claim my right.

The right of a rose to bloom
In its own sweet, separate way,
With none to question the perfumed pink
And none to utter a nay
If it reaches a root or points, a thorn, as even a rose-tree may.

The right of the lady-birch to grow,
To grow as the Lord shall please,
By never a sturdy oak rebuked,
Denied nor sun nor breeze,
For all its pliant slenderness, kin to the stronger trees.

The right to a life of my own,--
Not merely a casual bit
Of somebody else's life, flung out
That, taking hold of it,
I may stand as a cipher does after a numeral writ.

The right to gather and glean
What food I need and can
From the garnered store of knowledge
Which man has heaped for man,
Taking with free hands freely and after an ordered plan.

The right--ah, best and sweetest!--
To stand all undismayed
Whenever sorrow or want or sin
Call for a woman's aid,
With none to call or question, by never a look gainsaid.

I do not ask for a ballot;
Though very life were at stake,
I would beg for the nobler justice
That men for manhood's sake
Should give ungrudgingly, nor withhold till I must fight and take.

The fleet foot and the feeble foot
Both seek the self-same goal,
The weakest soldier's name is writ
On the great army-roll,
And God, who made man's body strong, made too the woman's soul

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