Verse > Anthologies > Alfred H. Miles, ed. > Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century
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Alfred H. Miles, ed.  Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century.  1907.
 
Sonnets.
V.–VI. Peace to the Odalisque
By Emily Pfeiffer (1841–1890)
 
I.
PEACE to the odalisque, the facile slave,
Whose unrespective love rewards the brave,
Or cherishes the coward; she who yields
Her lord the fief of waste, uncultured fields
To fester in non-using; she whose hour        5
Is measured by her beauty’s transient flower;
Who lives in man, as he in God, and dies
His parasite, who shuts her from the skies.
Graceful ephemera! Fair morning dream
  Of the young world! In vain would women’s hearts,        10
In love with sacrifice, withstand the stream
  Of human progress; other spheres, new parts
Await them. God be with them in their quest—
Our brave, sad working-women of the West.
 
II.
Peace to the odalisque, whose morning glory
        15
Is vanishing, to be alone in story;
Firm in her place, a dull-robed figure stands,
With wistful eyes, and earnest, grappling hands:
The working-woman, she whose soul and brain—
Her tardy right—are bought with honest pain.        20
Oh woman! sacrifice may still be thine—
More fruitful than the souls ye did resign
To sated masters; from your lives, so real,
Will shape itself a pure and high ideal,
That ye will seek with sad, wide-open eyes,        25
Till, finding nowhere, baffled love shall rise
To higher planes, where passion may look pale,
But charity’s white light shall never fail.
 
 
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