The Housewife

Original Text: 
The Later Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, ed. Denise D. Knight (Delaware: University of Delaware Press, 1996): 73.
1Here is the House to hold me -- cradle of all the race;
2Here is my lord and my love, here are my children dear --
3Here is the House enclosing, the dear-loved dwelling place;
4Why should I ever weary for aught that I find not here?
5Here for the hours of the day and the hours of the night;
6Bound with the bands of Duty, rivetted tight;
7Duty older than Adam -- Duty that saw
8Acceptance utter and hopeless in the eyes of the serving squaw.
9Food and the serving of food -- that is my daylong care;
10What and when we shall eat, what and how we shall wear;
11Soiling and cleaning of things -- that is my task in the main --
12Soil them and clean them and soil them -- soil them and clean them again.
13To work at my trade by the dozen and never a trade to know;
14To plan like a Chinese puzzle -- fitting and changing so;
15To think of a thousand details, each in a thousand ways;
16For my own immediate people and a possible love and praise.
17My mind is trodden in circles, tiresome, narrow and hard,
18Useful, commonplace, private -- simply a small back-yard;
19And I the Mother of Nations! -- Blind their struggle and vain! --
20I cover the earth with my children -- each with a housewife's brain.
Publication Notes: 
Forerunner 1 (September 1910): 18; Suffrage Songs and Verses (New York: Charlton, 1911): 8-9.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: