George Crabbe

(24 December 1754 - 3 February 1832 / Aldeburgh, Suffulk)

Woman!


Place the white man on Afric's coast,
Whose swarthy sons in blood delight,
Who of their scorn to Europe boast,
And paint their very demons white:
There, while the sterner sex disdains
To soothe the woes they cannot feel,
Woman will strive to heal his pains,
And weep for those she cannot heal:
Hers is warm pity's sacred glow;
From all her stores she bears a part,
And bids the spring of hope re-flow,
That languish'd in the fainting heart.

'What though so pale his haggard face,
So sunk and sad his looks,'--she cries;
'And far unlike our nobler race,
With crisped locks and rolling eyes;
Yet misery marks him of our kind;
We see him lost, alone, afraid;
And pangs of body, griefs in mind,
Pronounce him man, and ask our aid.

'Perhaps in some far-distant shore
There are who in these forms delight;
Whose milky features please them more,
Than ours of jet thus burnished bright;
Of such may be his weeping wife,
Such children for their sire may call,
And if we spare his ebbing life,
Our kindness may preserve them all.'

Thus her compassion Woman shows:
Beneath the line her acts are these;
Nor the wide waste of Lapland-snows
Can her warm flow of pity freeze: -
'From some sad land the stranger comes,
Where joys like ours are never found;
Let's soothe him in our happy homes,
Where freedom sits, with plenty crown'd.

'Tis good the fainting soul to cheer,
To see the famish'd stranger fed;
To milk for him the mother-deer,
To smooth for him the furry bed.
The powers above our Lapland bless
With good no other people know;
T'enlarge the joys that we possess,
By feeling those that we bestow!'

Thus in extremes of cold and heat,
Where wandering man may trace his kind;
Wherever grief and want retreat,
In Woman they compassion find;
She makes the female breast her seat,
And dictates mercy to the mind.

Man may the sterner virtues know,
Determined justice, truth severe;
But female hearts with pity glow,
And Woman holds affliction dear;
For guiltless woes her sorrows flow,
And suffering vice compels her tear;
'Tis hers to soothe the ills below,
And bid life's fairer views appear:
To Woman's gentle kind we owe
What comforts and delights us here;
They its gay hopes on youth bestow,
And care they soothe, and age they cheer.

Submitted: Friday, April 16, 2010

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