Tell me what is woman’s sphere?
What path was she designed to tread?
What may she hope? What must she fear?
What may she do and what must dare
To win her daily dole of bread?
Is she but fit to sweep and sew,
To spread her master’s table well,
To go and come, to come and go,
On one unvaried round, and grow
In nothing good if nothing ill?
Has she no mind to cultivate?
No heart for fatherland to glow?
No int’rest in the future fate
Of sons and daughters, that her state
Is almost slavery, vile and low?
As plants untended droop and fade,
And weeds choke out most precious seed,
So woman’s mind, a desert made
By long suppression, needs the aid
Of cultivation broad and deep.
Let woman’s sphere, then, not be small;
Her powers developed, not confined,
Her intellect, will, body, all
Emancipated from the thrall
Which far too long has round them twined.
Whatever she can well perform,
Whatever she aspires to do,
Whate’er expands, protects from harm
Or give her life an ample form
Is well, O man, thrice well for you.
When your mind’s culture is complete,
Your nature polished and refined,
For mate in life ’tis surely meet
You have a soul, not simply sweet,
But strong and noble, heart and mind.
No shadow, charming toy nor slave
Can ever be companion true;
To fit her for her duties grave,
More light and room must woman have–
To walk side by side with you.