Complacent they tell us, hard hearts and derisive,
In vain is our ardour: in vain are our sighs:
Our intellects, bound by a limit decisive,
To the level of Homer's may never arise.
We heed not the falsehood, the base innuendo,
The laws of the universe, these are our friends,
Our talents shall rise in a mighty crescendo,
We trust Evolution to make us amends!
But ah, when I ask you for food that is mental,
My sisters, you offer me ices and tea!
You cherish the fleeting, the mere accidental,
At cost of the True, the Intrinsic, the Free.
Your feelings, compressed in Society's mangle,
Are vapid and frivolous, pallid and mean.
To slander you love; but you don't care to wrangle;
You bow to Decorum, and cherish Routine.
Alas, is it woolwork you take for your mission,
Or Art that your fingers so gaily attack?
Can patchwork atone for the mind's inanition?
Can the soul, oh my sisters, be fed on a plaque?
Is this your vocation? My goal is another,
And empty and vain is the end you pursue.
In antimacassars the world you may smother;
But intellect marches o'er them and o'er you.
On Fashion's vagaries your energies strewing,
Devoting your days to a rug or a screen,
Oh, rouse to a lifework — do something worth doing!
Invent a new planet, a flying-machine.
Mere charms superficial, mere feminine graces,
That fade or that flourish, no more you may prize;
But the knowledge of Newton will beam from your faces,
The soul of a Spencer will shine in your eyes.
Though jealous exclusion may tremble to own us,
Oh, wait for the time when our brains shall expand!
When once we're enthroned, you shall never dethrone us —
The poets, the sages, the seers of the land!
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