Mallee Wife

Home's best (she said), and the tale
Of the hungering soil and the flail
Of the sun and the shuddering threat
Of the heat, and more heat yet;
Of more than a woman can stand,
Almost, in that merciless land,
With its lifelong, lingering strife,
For the Mallee mother and wife.

Oh, I've seen all the spurious zest
Of the city, and yet, home's best;
The sweep of the plain's vast verge,
And the calling of Life and the urge
To struggle and hope in vain,
Then struggle and hope again
That, and the faith that clings
For the solving of human things.

Home's best (she said). I have seen
The glamor of cities, the sheen
Of the silken garments rare
And they spell for me despair;
Despair for the woman who cleaves
To luxury's yellowing leaves
Despair for the weakening race,
Who, faltering, fall from grace.

Life, as I know it is stern;
And the seed of my seed must learn
That nothing has life to give
Save a man must labor to live
Struggle and ache and toil
For the gifts that come of the soil,
Since every treasure of worth
Comes of the hard, kind earth.

Home's best (she said), and the dust
And the finger of God out-thrust,
Saying, 'You toil, or die
Under this pitiless sky.'
Even as long since said
To the Parents of Man long dead;
Even as 'twas decreed
In Man's first, passionate need.

Home's best. For what do they know,
Who cleave to glitter and show,
And strive in a strange excess
Of pleasure for happiness?
What do they know of worth
Of the secret lure of the earth,
And the peace, and the exquisite ache of the battle
For my man's sake?

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"Mallee Wife" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 8 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6445/mallee-wife>.

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