Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » What of Thy Victory, O Woman?
 


What of Thy Victory, O Woman?

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 03, 2012

What of Thy Victory, O Woman?

By Mary Foster Gibbs

“What doest thou, O woman, out in the market place,
The ballot in thy eager hands, a smile upon thy face?”

I come to sing a victory song for women everywhere,
I bring a troop of happy girls with flowers in their hair.

“What hast thou done, O woman, to win this battle so,
What weapons wast thou girded with; how fell thy bitter foe?”

I had my tears and laughter, my patience long and wide,
I had both right and justice, so God was on my side.

“What will you do, O woman, with this great power you’ve won;
Your home, your child, your duty, how will you train your son?”

God gave to men the leadership; of them he will require
The answer to your questions; they build our altar fire.

Search thou, O man, thine inmost soul, and measure thy life force.
A stream can never higher rise than its own level source.

So here I stand, O questioning man, the ballot in my hand,
And I ask you, what will you do, with this fair freedom’s land?

“Together let us build our homes, together win each fight
For truth, for righteousness, and faith, for purity and light.

So shall we live, so shall we die, in liberty and love.
So shall we both find welcome sweet in our dear home above.”

(1920)



8 Comments »

  1. I confess I can’t quite tell what she means.

    Comment by Amy T — January 3, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

  2. It is ironic for me that this poem celebrates women’s suffrage (won in 1920 in the US), yet still claims “God gave to men the leadership…”

    Ardis, was this a RS Magazine published item? Sister Gibbs had other things published there, right?

    Comment by Paul — January 3, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  3. Frankly, I’m not entirely sure, either. It sounds as though Woman, newly enfranchised by the 19th amendment, is sure she deserves the vote, but is also telling Man that he is as responsible for home and family as she is. He accepts the challenge.

    Unless some reader can spot anything contradictory, I’m taking it as a poem of equality between man and woman, both at home and in the world.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 3, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  4. I should have refreshed my screen before commenting.

    Yes, Paul, it was a RS Magazine poem (October 1920), and Sister Gibbs’s name is familiar so she must have written other things.

    I’ll amend my “poem of equality” comment to say “under the definition of equality of a generation that sees no conflict between equality and male presiding.”

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 3, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  5. Ardis, after I wrote my comment I re-read the poem and came to the same conclusion you did. I am clearly reading the line I called out with early 21st century eyes, not early 20th century ones!

    Comment by Paul — January 3, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

  6. Yeah, and they apparently voted along with the men for Harding, one of the worst presidents on my list. So much “For truth, for righteousness, and faith, for purity and light.”

    Comment by Grant — January 3, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  7. “A stream can never higher rise than its own level source.”

    One drop of water or one branch of a stream can’t rise higher than the level of the water. A man, even a leader, cannot rise higher than the group. Being a leader may be his job, but it doesn’t make him higher in the sense of being worth more.

    It think it’s a pretty good way to explain it.

    Comment by Carol — January 4, 2012 @ 11:01 am

  8. God gave to men the leadership; of them he will require
    The answer to your questions; they build our altar fire.

    Couldn’t that also be read as a bare statement of political fact? Women in 1920 (as well as earlier in Utah and the other states with woman suffrage) depended on male voters and legislators for the right to vote…

    Comment by SLK — January 5, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

Leave a comment

RSS feed for comments on this post.
TrackBack URI