Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WAS HE HENPECKED?, by PHOEBE CARY



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WAS HE HENPECKED?, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: I'll tell you what it is, my dear
Last Line: Said mrs. Dorking wisely.
Subject(s): Marriage; Men; Women's Rights; Weddings; Husbands; Wives; Feminism


"I'll tell you what it is, my dear,"
Said Mrs. Dorking, proudly,
"I do not like that chanticleer
Who crows o'er us so loudly.

"And since I must his laws obey,
And have him walk before me,
I'd rather like to have my say
Of who should lord it o'er me."

"You'd like to vote?" he answered slow,
"Why, treasure of my treasures,
What can you, or what should you know
Of public men, or measures?

"Of course, you have ability,
Of nothing am I surer;
You're quite as wise, perhaps, as I;
You're better, too, and purer.

"I'd have you just for mine alone;
Nay, so do I adore you,
I'd put you queen upon a throne,
And bow myself before you."

"You'd put me! you? now that is that
I do not want, precisely;
I want myself to choose the spot
That I can fill most wisely."

"My dear, you're talking like a goose --
Unhenly, and improper" --
But here again her words broke loose,
In vain he tried to stop her:

"I tell you, though she never spoke
So you could understand her,
A goose knows when she wears a yoke,
As quickly as a gander."

"Why, bless my soul! what would you do?
Write out a diagnosis?
Speak equal rights? join with their crew
And dine with the Sorosis?

"And shall I live to see it, then --
My wife a public teacher?
And would you be a crowing hen --
That dreadful unsexed creature?"

"Why, as to that, I do not know;
Nor see why you should fear it;
If I can crow, why let me crow,
If I can't, then you won't hear it!"

"Now, why," he said, "can't such as you
Accept what we assign them?
You have your rights, 't is very true,
But then, we should define them!

"We would not peck you cruelly,
We would not buy and sell you;
And you, in turn, should think, and be,
And do, just what we tell you!

"I do not want you made, my dear,
The subject of rude men's jest;
I like you in your proper sphere,
The circle of a hen's nest!

"I'd keep you in the chicken-yard,
Safe, honored, and respected;
From all that makes us rough and hard,
Your sex should be protected."

"Pray, did it ever make you sick?
Have I gone to the dickens?
Because you let me scratch and pick
Both for myself and chickens?"

"Oh, that's a different thing, you know,
Such duties are parental;
But for some work to do, you'd grow
Quite weak and sentimental."

"Ah! yes, it's well for you to talk
About a parent's duty!
Who keeps your chickens from the hawk?
Who stays in nights, my beauty?"

"But, madam, you may go each hour,
Lord bless your pretty faces!
We'll give you anything, but power
And honor, trust and places.

"We'd keep it hidden from your sight
How public scenes are carried;
Why, men are coarse, and swear, and fight" --
"I know it, dear; I'm married!"

"Why, now you gabble like a fool;
But what's the use of talking?:
'T is yours to serve, and mine to rule,
I tell you, Mrs. Dorking!"

"Oh, yes," she said, "you've all the sense;
Your sex are very knowing;
Yet some of you are on the fence,
And only good at crowing."

"Ah! preciousest of precious souls,
Your words with sorrow fill me;
To see you voting at the polls
I really think would kill me.

"To mourn my home's lost sanctity;
To feel you did not love me;
And worse, to see you fly so high,
And have you roost above me!"

"Now, what you fear in equal rights
I think you've told precisely;
That's just about the 'place it lights,'"
Said Mrs. Dorking wisely.





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