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Poems About Women

Table of Contents

  1. A Woman's Hand by Amos Russel Wells
  2. A Woman's Love by Ruby Archer
  3. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle by William Ross Wallace
  4. Nike by Bliss Carman
  5. The Heart of a Woman by Georgia Douglas Johnson
  6. Her Hair by Ruby Archer
  7. There's Wisdom in Women by Rupert Brooke
  8. Change by Appleton Oaksmith
  9. Heroic Women

  10. Sa-cá-ga-we-a by Edna Dean Proctor
  11. Betsy's Battle Flag by Minna Irving
  12. Molly Maguire at Monmouth by Anonymous
  13. Maid of the West-Land by Robert J. C. Stead
  14. The School-Ma'am by Robert J. C. Stead
  15. The Swedish Wife by Henrietta Gould Rowe
  16. Sabbath Day by Margaret E. Sangster

  1. A Woman's Hand

    by Amos Russel Wells

    Soft and tender, smooth and white,
    Formed for winning and delight,
    Nature has no lovelier sight,—
    A woman's hand.

    Wrinkled, worn with much to do,
    Many a task for me and you,
    In all trials good and true,—
    A woman's hand.

    Clasping ours through life and death,
    Lovingly to latest breath,
    Sweetest thing that comforteth,—
    A woman's hand.

  2. A Woman's Love

    by Ruby Archer

    "Let me look into your eyes
    For mine image." "Is it there?"
    "Yes." "Look deeper—scan my heart.
    Do you find it?" "Yes, more fair.
    Now look you for yours in mine,"
    And her gaze went up and through.
    But she made reply—"Ah, no!
    You I see, and only you."

  3. The Hand That Rocks the Cradle

    For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.

    – William Ross Wallace
    The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
    by William Ross Wallace

    Blessings on the hand of women!
    Angels guard its strength and grace.
    In the palace, cottage, hovel,
    Oh, no matter where the place;
    Would that never storms assailed it,
    Rainbows ever gently curled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.

    Infancy's the tender fountain,
    Power may with beauty flow,
    Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
    From them souls unresting grow—
    Grow on for the good or evil,
    Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.

    Woman, how divine your mission,
    Here upon our natal sod;
    Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
    Always to the breath of God!
    All true trophies of the ages
    Are from mother-love impearled,
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.

    Blessings on the hand of women!
    Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
    And the sacred song is mingled
    With the worship in the sky—
    Mingles where no tempest darkens,
    Rainbows evermore are hurled;
    For the hand that rocks the cradle
    Is the hand that rules the world.

  4. Nike

    by Bliss Carman

    What do men give thanks for?
    I give thanks for one,
    Lovelier than morning,
    Dearer than the sun.

    Such a head the victors
    Must have praised and known,
    With that breast and bearing,
    Nike's very own—

    As superb, untrammeled,
    Rhythmed and poised and free
    As the strong pure sea-wind
    Walking on the sea;

    Such a hand as Beauty
    Uses with full heart,
    Seeking for her freedom
    In new shapes of art;

    Soft as rain in April,
    Quiet as the days
    Of the purple asters
    And the autumn haze;

    With a soul more subtle
    Than the light of stars,
    Frailer than a moth's wing
    To the touch that mars;

    Wise with all the silence
    Of the waiting hills,
    When the gracious twilight
    Wakes in them and thrills;

    With a voice more tender
    Than the early moon
    Hears among the thrushes
    In the woods of June;

    Delicate as grasses
    When they lift and stir —
    One sweet lyric woman—
    I give thanks for her.

  5. The Heart of a Woman

    by Georgia Douglas Johnson

    The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
    As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
    Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
    In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.

    The heart of a woman falls back with the night,
    And enters some alien cage in its plight,
    And tries to forget it has dreamed of the stars
    While it breaks, breaks, breaks on the sheltering bars.

  6. Her Hair

    by Ruby Archer

    Back from her brow it ripples,
    Falling to either side,
    Forgetting a ringlet here and there
    To curl where the ways divide.

    A fortune of ruddy tresses
    Glinting with burnished gold,—
    The glorious hue that Titian loved
    In Italian days of old.

    How cunning the trick of pinning
    Half loosely the plenteous mass!
    The very sunbeams a tribute pay—
    Lay down their light as they pass.

  7. Heaven

    by Rupert Brooke

    "Oh love is fair, and love is rare;" my dear one she said,
    "But love goes lightly over." I bowed her foolish head,
    And kissed her hair and laughed at her. Such a child was she;
    So new to love, so true to love, and she spoke so bitterly.

    But there's wisdom in women, of more than they have known,
    And thoughts go blowing through them, are wiser than their own,
    Or how should my dear one, being ignorant and young,
    Have cried on love so bitterly, with so true a tongue?

  8. Change

    by Appleton Oaksmith

    My lady-love so cold has grown
    I cannot meet her eye
    But that my heart sinks like a stone,
    And I but wish to die.
    There was a time when her dear glance
    Was warmer than the sun;
    But now my love hath little chance
    For hope to dwell upon.

    "Why hath she changed?" I ask the winds
    Which pass me kindly by;
    But each dead leaf the cause reminds,
    And all things make reply.
    I wander in the woods at eve,
    And watch the dead leaves fall,
    And chide myself that I should grieve
    For what doth come to all.

    "Change, change," is written everywhere
    Upon the earth and sky;
    We breathe it with life's morning air,
    We live it when we die.
    Then wherefore should I grieve that she
    Acteth so well her part,
    Since greater change can never be
    Than in a woman's heart!

  9. A Sweet Woman

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    I know her well,—a thing that few can say—
    So far within the shade her quiet life,
    So softly flow its tides from day to day,
    So gently do its hidden fountains play.
    And she—she is a mother and a wife.

    What is she like? Ah, that I do not know.
    I scarce can tell the color of her eyes,
    So changeful are the lights that come and go—
    Now a quick sparkle, now a thoughtful glow—
    But always tender sweetness in them lies.

    Beautiful?—why, yes, if beauty is a thing
    That one can feel and lean one's heart upon;
    Beauty of form and hue not now I sing.
    Her beauty is that which soon takes wing,
    And leaves but ugliness when youth is gone.

    Her hands are lovely, yet they are not white,
    Nor even small. Their beauty each one sees
    Who feels their ministrations deft and light.
    I think they are the fairest in the night,
    Cooling some hot brow, soothing pain to ease.

    She is a queen; and yet no jewelled crown
    Enfolds the soft bands of her shining hair.
    Love is her coronet. Hands hard and brown,
    And tiny baby fingers, clasp it down.
    Methinks that is the holiest crown to wear.

    Silent her work, and all unknown to fame.
    Of loud, for sounding praise she never dreams.
    The world's great trumpeter's know not her name.
    Her steady light is no wide-flaring flame;
    'Tis but a fireside lamp, that softly gleams.

    I do not know—I think her way is best.
    Her husband trusts her, and her children rise
    With sweetly smiling lips, and call her blest.
    She does her duty, leaves to God the rest.
    She is not great, but, surely she is wise.

  10. Heroic Women

  11. Sa-cá-ga-we-a

    Song of the Eagle that Mates with the Storm!
    Song of the Eagle that Mates with the Storm!
    by N. C. Wyeth
    by Edna Dean Proctor

    Sho-shó-ne Sa-cá-ga-we-a—captive and wife was she
    On the grassy plains of Dakota in the land of the Minnetaree;
    But she heard the west wind calling, and longed to follow the sun
    Back to the shining mountains and the glens where her life begun.

    So, when the valiant Captains, fain for the Asian sea,
    Stayed their marvellous journey in the land of the Minnetaree
    (The Red Men wondering, wary—Omaha, Mandan, Sioux—
    Friendly now, now hostile, as they toiled the wilderness through),
    Glad she turned from the grassy plains and led their way to the West,
    Her course as true as the swan's that flew north to its reedy nest;
    Her eye as keen as the eagle's when the young lambs feed below;
    Her ear alert as the stag's at morn guarding the fawn and doe.
    Straight was she as a hillside fir, lithe as the willow-tree,
    And her foot as fleet as the antelope's when the hunter rides the lea;
    In broidered tunic and moccasins, with braided raven hair,
    And closely belted buffalo robe with her baby nestling there—
    Girl of but sixteen summers, the homing bird of the quest,
    Free of the tongues of the mountains, deep on her heart imprest,—
    Sho-shó-ne Sa-ca-ga-we-a led the way to the West!—
    To Missouri's broad savannas dark with bison and deer,
    While the grizzly roamed the savage shore and cougar and wolf prowled near;
    To the cataract's leap, and the meadows with lily and rose abloom;
    The sunless trails of the forest, and the can yon's hush and gloom;
    By the veins of gold and silver, and the mountains vast and grim—
    Their snowy summits lost in clouds on the wide horizon's brim;
    Through sombre pass, by soaring peak, till the Asian wind blew free,
    And lo! the roar of the Oregon and the splendor of the Sea!

    Some day, in the lordly upland where the snow-fed streams divide—
    Afoam for the far Atlantic, afoam for Pacific's tide—
    There, by the valiant Captains whose glory will never dim
    While the sun goes down to the Asian sea and the stars in ether swim,
    She will stand in bronze as richly brown as the hue of her girlish cheek,
    With broidered robe and braided hair and lips just curved to speak;
    And the mountain winds will murmur as they linger along the crest,
    "Sho-shó-ne Sa-cá-ga-we-a, who led the way to the West!"

  12. Betsy's Battle Flag

    Betsy Ross showing Major Ross and Robert Morris how she cut the stars for the American flag.  George Washington sits in a chair on the left.
    Betsy Ross 1777
    by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris
    by Minna Irving

    From dusk till dawn the livelong night
    She kept the tallow dips alight,
    And fast her nimble fingers flew
    To sew the stars upon the blue.
    With weary eyes and aching head
    She stitched the stripes of white and red,
    And when the day came up the stair
    Complete across a carven chair
    Hung Betsy’s battle flag.

    Like shadows in the evening gray
    The Continentals filed away,
    With broken boots and ragged coats,
    But hoarse defiance in their throats;
    They bore the marks of want and cold,
    And some were lame and some were old,
    And some with wounds untended bled,
    But floating bravely overhead
    Was Betsy’s battle flag.

    When fell the battle’s leaden rain,
    The soldier hushed his moans of pain
    And raised his dying head to see
    King George’s troopers turn and flee.
    Their charging column reeled and broke,
    And vanished in the rolling smoke,
    Before the glory of the stars,
    The snowy stripes, and scarlet bars
    Of Betsy’s battle flag.

    The simple stone of Betsy Ross
    Is covered now with mold and moss,
    But still her deathless banner flies,
    And keeps the color of the skies.
    A nation thrills, a nation bleeds,
    A nation follows where it leads,
    And every man is proud to yield
    His life upon a crimson field
    For Betsy’s battle flag!

  13. Molly Maguire at Monmouth

    Molly "Pitcher" Maguire at Monmouth
    Molly Pitcher
    by George Alfred Williams
    by Anonymous. Note: One source attributes this poem to the English poet William Collins, however, this is not possible considering William Collins died before the Battle of Monmouth took place.

    On the bloody field of Monmouth
    Flashed the guns of Greene and Wayne,
    Fiercely roared the tide of battle,
    Thick the sward was heaped with slain.
    Foremost, facing death and danger,
    Hessian, horse, and grenadier,
    In the vanguard, fiercely fighting,
    Stood an Irish Cannonier.

    Loudly roared his iron cannon,
    Mingling ever in the strife,
    And beside him, firm and daring,
    Stood his faithful Irish wife.
    Of her bold contempt of danger
    Greene and Lee’s Brigades could tell,
    Every one knew “Captain Molly,”
    And the army loved her well.

    Surged the roar of battle round them,
    Swiftly flew the iron hail,
    Forward dashed a thousand bayonets,
    That lone battery to assail.
    From the foeman’s foremost columns
    Swept a furious fusillade,
    Mowing down the massed battalions
    In the ranks of Greene’s Brigade.

    Fast and faster worked the gunner,
    Soiled with powder, blood, and dust,
    English bayonets shone before him,
    Shot and shell around him burst;
    Still he fought with reckless daring,
    Stood and manned her long and well,
    Till at last the gallant fellow
    Dead—beside his cannon fell.

    With a bitter cry of sorrow,
    And a dark and angry frown,
    Looked that band of gallant patriots
    At their gunner stricken down.
    “Fall back, comrades, it is folly
    Thus to strive against the foe.”
    “No! not so,” cried Irish Molly,
    “We can strike another blow.”

    Quickly leaped she to the cannon,
    In her fallen husband’s place,
    Sponged and rammed it fast and steady,
    Fired it in the foeman’s face.
    Flashed another ringing volley,
    Roared another from the gun;
    “Boys, hurrah!” cried gallant Molly,
    “For the flag of Washington.”

    Greene’s Brigade, though torn and shattered,
    Slain and bleeding half their men,
    When they heard that Irish slogan,
    Turned and charged the foe again.
    Knox and Wayne and Morgan rally,
    To the front they forward wheel,
    And before their rushing onset
    Clinton’s English columns reel.

    Still the cannon’s voice in anger
    Rolled and rattled o’er the plain,
    Till there lay in swarms around it
    Mangled heaps of Hessian slain.
    “Forward! charge them with the bayonet!”
    ’T was the voice of Washington,
    And there burst a fiery greeting
    From the Irish woman’s gun.

    Monckton falls; against his columns
    Leap the troops of Mayne and Lee,
    And before their reeking bayonets
    Clinton’s red battalions flee.
    Morgan’s rifles, fiercely flashing,
    Thin the foe’s retreating ranks,
    And behind them onward dashing
    Ogden hovers on their flanks.

    Fast they fly, these boasting Britons,
    Who in all their glory came,
    With their brutal Hessian hirelings
    To wipe out our country’s name.
    Proudly floats the starry banner,
    Monmouth’s glorious field is won,
    And in triumph Irish Molly
    Stands beside her smoking gun.

  14. Maid of the West-Land

    by Robert J. C. Stead

    Heart that is free as the open air,
    Eyes like the beams of the morn that rise
    Over our prairies, bright and fair,
    Brow like the silver of sunset skies,
    Cheeks with a beauty that glorifies,
    Tresses of sunlight, through and through,
    Figure and form that we idolize,
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Hope that is broad as your face is rare,
    Yearning that unto the uttermost cries,
    Soul that itself is a breath of prayer,
    Heaven-sent spirit in womanly guise;
    Tender caresses that minimize
    The labors of life with their pain and rue,
    Loving affection that never dies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Courage that rises to do and dare,
    Spell that entangles the sage and wise
    From venturesome toe to your crown of hair
    Ravishing beauties that hypnotize;
    Many the man for your favor vies,
    Well may he plead for the favor, too;
    Twentieth Century's greatest prize—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    ENVOI.
    Maid of the West, in your wistful eyes,
    Tenderly deep as the western blue,
    The glorious hope of our future lies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

  15. The School-Ma'am

    by Robert J. C. Stead

    No hope of worldly gain is hers,
    A yokel's wages for her hire,
    And every throb of self's desire
    Resigned to childish worshippers.

    A tiny school her citadel,
    A fenceless acre her domain,
    Her life a sacrifice; her gain
    The gain of those she serves so well.

    Though little more than child herself,
    A mother she to many sons;
    In every vein the child-love runs
    And fondly floods each little elf.

    Though hampered by the formal sense
    Of laws that check her usefulness
    And boards of rustic truthfulness
    And kindly-meant incompetence,

    She earns a price they cannot pay,
    Obeys a law they did not make,
    Enduring for their children's sake
    The arrogance of human clay.

    Oh, hide your littleness in shame Who think ye pay for all she gives;
    Within her sacred circle lives
    The light of an eternal flame,

    And growing down your country's page.
    The beauty of her sacrifice
    Shall glow again in other eyes,
    And multiply from age to age.

    The mothers of the race to be
    Shall live her tenderness anew,
    And her devotion shall imbue
    The sons who keep our country free.

    She gains no flagrant, pompous prize,
    But men who move the world's affairs
    Shall snatch a moment from their cares
    To think of her with moistened eyes.

    The conquerors of hostile lands,
    The hearts the nation's burdens bear,
    To-morrow's lords of earth and air,
    To-day are moulded in her hands.

    The lightest trifle from her lips
    May charge some soul with fertile seed
    That in the hour of direst need
    Shall save your nation from eclipse.

    The kings of action, speech, and brain,
    The men your sons shall mark and raise
    To shape the nation's destinies,
    Shall earn her salary again.

    I count the paltry dollars spent
    Pay richer dividends than gold
    When those who such position hold
    Exert it for earth's betterment.

  16. The Swedish Wife

    by Henrietta Gould Rowe. In the State House at Augusta, Me., is a bunch of cedar shingles made by a Swedish woman the wife of one of the earliest settlers of New Sweden, who, with her husband sick and a family of little ones dependent upon her, made with her own hands these shingles, and carried them eight miles upon her back to the town of Caribou, where she exchanged them for provisions for her family.

    The morning sun shines bright and clear,
    Clear and cold, for winter is near,—
    Winter, the chill and dread:
    And the fire burns bright in the exile's home,
    With fagot of fir from the mountain's dome,
    While the children clamor for bread.

    Against the wall stands the idle wheel,
    Unfinished the thread upon the spindle and reel,
    The empty cards are crost;
    But nigh to the hearthstone sits the wife,
    With cleaver and mallet,—so brave and so blithe,
    She fears not famine or frost.

    Fair and soft are her braided locks,
    And the light in her blue eye merrily mocks
    The shadow of want and fear,
    As deftly, with fingers supple and strong,
    She draws the glittering shave along,
    O'er the slab of cedar near.

    Neatly and close are the shingles laid,
    Bound in a bunch,—then, undismayed,
    The Swedish wife uprose:
    "Be patient, my darlings," she blithely said,
    "I go to the town, and you shall have bread,
    Ere the day has reached its close."

    Eight miles she trudged—'twas a weary way;
    The road was rough, the sky grew gray
    With the snow that sifted down;
    Bent were her shoulders beneath their load,
    But high was her heart, for love was the goad
    That urged her on to the town.

    Ere the sun went down was her promise kept,
    The little ones feasted before they slept;
    While the father, sick in bed,
    Prayed softly, with tears and murmurs low,
    That his household darlings might never know
    A lack of their daily bread.

  17. Sabbath Day

    by Margaret E. Sangster

    A little aside from the sweep and whirl,
    The shifting splendor of swift Broadway,
    Is a place where sounds but gently purl,
    And a spell of quiet invests the day.
    There marbles are gleaming in beauty wrought,
    And rosy faces of children glow,
    And the painter's vision hath shrined the thought
    Of tropical sunlight or polar snow.

    There, late on a summer's afternoon,
    Till the shadowing twilight softly fell,
    I lingered, reluctant to leave too soon
    A simple picture which pleased me well.
    Steady and cheerful, strong and sweet,
    Was the womanly face that drew my gaze,
    With a look which smiled my own to meet,
    A wonderful blending of prayer and praise.

    'T was a dame of the Highlands, sturdy still,
    Though youth had left her many a day,
    And used to taking, with resolute will,
    Her path to church in the good old way.
    Whether sunlit mists to the mountains clime
    Or the tempest athwart them were driven wild,
    She went to the kirk, where the psalms were sung,
    Fearless and brave as an eager child.

    I thought how often some trifle kept
    Our dainty women from cushioned pews:
    Too late, perhaps, in the morn they've slept,
    Or the hat is amiss, or tight the shoes;
    There's the hint of rain in the clouded sky,
    And the book and the easy-chair invite.
    I thought as I gazed in the steadfast eye
    Of the Highland mother, blithe and bright—

    Little she cared for the bitter blast,
    Or the swirl of the storm in her lifted face;
    She would win through its uttermost stress at last,
    And endurance was hers, from a hardy race.
    A narrow life in her lowly cot
    She led, as she cared for barn and byre;
    But narrower far, where God is not,
    Are lives which the loftiest men desire.

    There's something grand in the quiet way
    Yon strong soul passes, from sun to sun,
    The week-day hours and the Sabbath-day
    Counting alike by duties done.
    The breath of the hills in that picture fair,
    With the tangled heather bent and wet,
    And the tranquil woman, amid it there,
    Are cordial and help to my spirit yet.

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