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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Mary Ashley Townsend (1836–1901)

A Woman’s Wish

WOULD I were lying in a field of clover,

Of clover cool and soft, and soft and sweet,

With dusky clouds on deep skies hanging over,

And scented silence at my head and feet.

Just for one hour to slip the leash of Worry,

In eager haste, from Thought’s impatient neck,

And watch it coursing, in its heedless hurry

Disdaining Wisdom’s call or Duty’s beck!

Ah! it were sweet, where clover clumps are meeting

And daisies hiding, so to hide and rest;

No sound except my own heart’s steady beating,

Rocking itself to sleep within my breast;—

Just to lie there, filled with the deeper breathing

That comes of listening to a wild bird’s song!

Our souls require at times this full unsheathing,—

All swords will rust if scabbard-kept too long:

And I am tired,—so tired of rigid duty,

So tired of all my tired hands find to do!

I yearn, I faint, for some of life’s free beauty,

Its loose beads with no straight string running through.

Aye, laugh, if laugh you will, at my crude speech;

But women sometimes die of such a greed,—

Die for the small joys held beyond their reach,

And the assurance they have all they need!