Great American Novels, Ranked by How Much We Hate Them
145Fie, fie! Unknit that threat'ning unkind brow
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
150And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
155Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labor both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
160Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience—
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
165Even such a woman oweth to her husband.
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
170I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
175Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms!
Girls, girls! Wipe those frowns off your faces and stop rolling your eyes. This disrespectful stance toward the man who is your lord, your king, your governor tarnishes your beauty the way the frosts of winter blights the land. It mars your reputations as whirlwinds shake fair buds. And in no sense is it fitting or attractive. An angry woman is like an agitated fountain—muddy, unpleasant, lacking in beauty. And in this condition, no one—however dry or thirsty he may be—will stoop to sip or touch one drop of it. Your husband is your lord, your life, your keeper, your head, your sovereign, one who cares for you and who, for your ease and comfort, commits his body to harsh labor both on land and sea. Long, stormy nights at seas he stays awake, by day he endures cold while you lie safe and warm, secure in your beds at home. And in exchange he seeks no more from you but love, kind looks, and true obedience—too little payment for so great a debt. A woman owes her husband the same loyalty a subject owes his king. And when she is peevish and perverse, sullen, sour, and disobedient to his honest wishes, what is she but a loathsome, warlike rebel and an ungrateful traitor to her loving lord? I am ashamed that women are so foolish as to declare war when they should plead on their knees for peace, that they seek authority, supremacy, and power when they are under an obligation to serve, love, and obey. Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth, unfit for toil and trouble in the world, if not so that our soft qualities and our hearts should agree with our external parts? Come, come, you weak, ungovernable worms!