The Home, Charlotte Perkins Gilman
The Home
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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The Home, Its Work and Influence is a 1903 feminist book by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In the book she attacks the domesticity of women in the early 20th century. Her central argument is that 'the economic independence and specialization of women is essential to the improvement of marriage, motherhood, domestic industry, and racial improvement'.

The Home

Its Work and Influence

by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Two Callings

I

I hear a deep voice through uneasy dreaming,
A
deep, soft, tender, soul-beguiling voice;
A
lulling voice that bids the dreams remain,
That
calms my restlessness and dulls my pain,
That
thrills and fills and holds me till in seeming
There
is no other sound on earth — no choice.

“Home!” says the deep voice, “Home!” and softly singing
Brings
me a sense of safety unsurpassed;
So
old! so old! The piles above the wave —
The
shelter of the stone-blocked, shadowy cave —
Security
of sun-kissed treetops swinging —
Safety
and Home at last!

“Home” says the sweet voice, and warm Comfort rises,
Holding
my soul with velvet-fingered hands;
Comfort
of leafy lair and lapping fur,
Soft
couches, cushions, curtains, and the stir
Of
easy pleasures that the body prizes,
Of
soft, swift feet to serve the least commands.

I shrink — half rise — and then it murmurs “Duty!”
Again
the past rolls out — a scroll unfurled;
Allegiance
and long labor due my lord —
Allegiance
in an idleness abhorred —
I
am the squaw — the slave — the harem beauty —
I
serve and serve, the handmaid of the world.

My soul rebels — but hark! a new note thrilling,
Deep,
deep, past finding — I protest no more;
The
voice says “Love!” and all those ages dim
Stand
glorified and justified in him;
I
bow — I kneel — the woman soul is willing —
“Love
is the law. Be still! Obey! Adore!”

And then — ah, then! The deep voice murmurs “Mother!”
And
all life answers from the primal sea;
A
mingling of all lullabies; a peace
That
asks no understanding; the release
Of
nature’s holiest power — who seeks another?
Home?
Home is Mother — Mother, Home — to me.

“Home!” says the deep voice; “Home and Easy Pleasure!
Safety
and Comfort, Laws of Life well kept!
Love!”
and my heart rose thrilling at the word;
“Mother!”
it nestled down and never stirred;
“Duty
and Peace and Love beyond all measure!
Home!
Safety! Comfort! Mother!” — and I slept.

II

A bugle call! A clear, keen, ringing cry,
Relentless —
eloquent — that found the ear
Through
fold on fold of slumber, sweet, profound —
A
widening wave of universal sound,
Piercing
the heart — filling the utmost sky —
I
wake — I must wake! Hear — for I must hear!

“The World! The World is crying! Hear its needs!
Home
is a part of life — I am the whole!
Home
is the cradle — shall a whole life stay
Cradled
in comfort through the working day?
I
too am Home — the Home of all high deeds —
The
only Home to hold the human soul!

“Courage! — the front of conscious life!” it cried;
“Courage
that dares to die and dares to live!
Why
should you prate of safety? Is life meant
In
ignominious safety to be spent?
Is
Home best valued as a place to hide?
Come
out, and give what you are here to give!

“Strength and Endurance! of high action born!”
And
all that dream of Comfort shrank away,
Turning
its fond, beguiling face aside:
So
Selfishness and Luxury and Pride
Stood
forth revealed, till I grew fierce with scorn,
And
burned to meet the dangers of the day.

“Duty? Aye, Duty! Duty! Mark the word!”
I
turned to my old standard. It was rent
From
hem to hem, and through the gaping place
I
saw my undone duties to the race
Of
man — neglected — spurned — how had I heard
That
word and never dreamed of what it meant!

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