To the Ladies

By Lady Mary Chudleigh 1656–1710 Lady Mary Chudleigh
Wife and servant are the same,
But only differ in the name:
For when that fatal knot is tied,
Which nothing, nothing can divide:
When she the word obey has said,
And man by law supreme has made,
Then all that’s kind is laid aside,
And nothing left but state and pride:
Fierce as an Eastern prince he grows,
And all his innate rigour shows:
Then but to look, to laugh, or speak,
Will the nuptial contract break.
Like mutes she signs alone must make,
And never any freedom take:
But still be governed by a nod,
And fear her husband as a God:
Him still must serve, him still obey,
And nothing act, and nothing say,
But what her haughty lord thinks fit,
Who with the power, has all the wit.
Then shun, oh! shun that wretched state,
And all the fawning flatt’rers hate:
Value your selves, and men despise,
You must be proud, if you’ll be wise.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Lady Mary Chudleigh 1656–1710

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Subjects Gender & Sexuality, Marriage & Companionship, Social Commentaries, Living

Poetic Terms Couplet

Biography

Lady Mary Chudleigh (1656-1710) was a devout Anglican who educated herself and, ahead of her time, challenged traditional gender roles. “To the Ladies” appeared in Poems on Several Occasions (1703); it echoes the feminist argument she set forth in The Female Advocate; or, A Plea for the Just Liberty of the Tender Sex and Particularly of Married Women.

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Lady Mary Chudleigh

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Gender & Sexuality, Marriage & Companionship, Social Commentaries, Living

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD 17th Century

Poetic Terms Couplet

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.