#199

Elizabeth Mayville
An “If” for Girls by Elizabeth Lincoln Otis

If you can dress to make yourself attractive,
       Yet not make puffs and curls your chief delight;
If you can swim and row, be strong and active,
       But of the gentler graces lose not sight;
If you can dance without a craze for dancing,
       Play without giving play too strong a hold,
Enjoy the love of friends without romancing,
       Care for the weak, the friendless and the old;


If you can master French and Greek and Latin,
       And not acquire, as well, a priggish mien,
If you can feel the touch of silk and satin
       Without despising calico and jean;
If you can ply a saw and use a hammer,
       Can do a man’s work when the need occurs,
Can sing when asked, without excuse or stammer,
       Can rise above unfriendly snubs and slurs;
If you can make good bread as well as fudges,
       Can sew with skill and have an eye for dust,
If you can be a friend and hold no grudges,
       A girl whom all will love because they must;


If sometime you should meet and love another
       And make a home with faith and peace enshrined,
And you its soul—a loyal wife and mother—
       You’ll work out pretty nearly to my mind
The plan that’s been developed through the ages,
       And win the best that life can have in store,
You’ll be, my girl, the model for the sages—
       A woman whom the world will bow before.
 
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