"A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question" by Lena Lathrop
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.
A Woman's Answer to a Man's Question
- 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.