What would I ask the kindly fates to give
To crown her life, if I could have my way?
My strongest wishes would be negative,
If they would but obey.
Give her not greatness. For great souls must stand
Alone and lonely in this little world:
Cleft rocks that show the great Creator’s hand,
Thither by earthquakes hurled.
Give her not genius. Spare her the cruel pain
Of finding her whole life a prey for daws;
Of hearing with quickened sense and burning brain
The world’s sneer-tinged applause.
Give her not perfect beauty’s gifts. For then
Her truthful mirror would infuse her mind
With love for self, and for the praise of men,
That lowers woman-kind.
But make her fair and comely to the sight,
Give her more heart than brain, more love than pride.
Let her be tender-thoughted, cheerful, bright,
Some strong man’s star and guide.
Not vainly questioning why she was sent
Into this restless world of toil and strife,
Let her go bravely on her way, content
To make the best of life.