Fugitive Verses
Popular Reprinted Poetry from Nineteenth Century Newspapers

A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question

Source of witness transcribed: The Tiffin Tribune (Tiffin, Ohio)

Date of witness transcribed: 26 January 1871

Notes about this poem: "A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question" was printed in at least 242 newspapers during the nineteenth century. It can be found using ID 545870 in this table of most widely-reprinted poems.

It often was reprinted without the author's name.


  • Do you know you have asked for the costliest thing
  • Ever made by the hand above?
  • A woman’s heart and a woman’s life—
  • And a woman’s wonderful love?

  • Do you know you have asked for the priceless thing
  • As a child might ask for a toy?
  • Demanding what others have died to win,
  • With the reckless dash of a boy?

  • You have written my lesson of duty out—
  • Man-like you have questioned me;
  • Now stand at the bar of woman’s soul,
  • Until I shall question thee.

  • You require your mutton shall be always hot,
  • Your socks and shirts be whole;
  • I require your heart to be true as a God’s stars,
  • And pure as Heaven your soul.

  • You require a cook for your mutton and beef,
  • I require a far greater thing;
  • A seamstress you’re wanting for sock and for shirts,
  • I look for a man and a king—

  • A king for the beautiful realm called home,
  • And a man that the Maker, God
  • Shall look upon as He did on the first,
  • And say, “It is very good.”

  • I am fair and young, but the rose will fade,
  • From my soft, young cheek one day—
  • Will you love me then ‘mid the falling leaves
  • As you did ‘mong the blooms of May?

  • Is your heart an ocean so strong and deep
  • I may launch my all on its tide!
  • A loving woman finds heaven or hell
  • On the day she is made a bride.

  • I require all things that are good and true,
  • All things that a man should be;
  • If you give this all, I would stake my life
  • To be all you demand of me.

  • If you cannot be this—a laundress and cook
  • You can hire, with little to pay;
  • But a woman’s heart and a woman’s life
  • Are not to be won that way.