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The Affinity

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I have to thank God I'm a woman,
For in these ordered days a woman only
Is free to be very hungry, very lonely.

It is sad for Feminism, but still clear
That man, more often than woman, is pioneer.
If I would confide a new thought,
First to a man must it be brought.

Now, for our sins, it is my bitter fate
That such a man wills soon to be my mate,
And so of friendship is quick end:
When I have gained a love I lose a friend.

It is well within the order of things
That man should listen when his mate sings;
But the true male never yet walked
Who liked to listen when his mate talked.

I would be married to a full man,
As would all women since the world began;
But from a wealth of living I have proved
I must be silent, if I would be loved.

Now of my silence I have much wealth,
I have to do my thinking all by stealth.
My thoughts may never see the day;
My mind is like a catacomb where early Christians pray.

And of my silence I have much pain,
But of these pangs I have great gain;
For I must take to drugs or drink,
Or I must write the things I think.

If my sex would let me speak,
I would be very lazy and most weak;
I should speak only, and the things I spoke
Would fill the air awhile, and clear like smoke.

The things I think now I write down,
And some day I will show them to the Town.
When I am sad I make thought clear;
I can re-read it all next year.

I have to thank God I'm a woman,
For in these ordered days a woman only
Is free to be very hungry, very lonely.


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The Affinity

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  • Anna Wickham, the pen name of Edith Alice Mary Harper, was born in 1883. Her childhood was marked by disruption and displacement, including two separate moves to Australia with her unconventional parents. She attended school in Australia and returned to England to study voice, though her marriage to Patrick Hepburn ended her career as a performer. She had four sons with Hepburn and began writing poetry in earnest during her marriage. Her first book, Songs, was published privately under the pen name John Oland around 1911. Around this time, she was committed to a mental asylum. However, the experience confirmed her devotion to poetry. Poetry collections published during her lifetime include The Contemplative Quarry (1915), The Man with a Hammer (1916), The Little Old House (1921), and Thirty-Six Poems (1926). Wickham’s lyrical, acerbic, and frankly feminist poetry attracted the attention of Louis Untermeyer, who republished her work in the United...

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