"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.
We may all have homes to love and grow in without the requirement that half of us shall never have anything else. We shall have homes of rest and peace for all, with no need for half of us to find them places of ceaseless work and care. Home and its beauty, home and its comfort, home and its refreshment to tired nerves, its inspiration to worn hearts, this is in no danger of loss or change; but the home which is so far from beautiful, so wearing to the nerves and dulling to the heart, the home life that means care and labour and disappointment, the quiet, unnoticed whirlpool that sucks down youth and beauty and enthusiasm, man's long labour and woman's longer love—this we may gladly change and safely lose. To the child who longs to grow up and be free; to the restless, rebelling boy; to the girl who marries all too hastily as a means of escape; to the man who puts his neck in the collar and pulls while life lasts to meet the unceasing demands of his little sanctuary; and to the woman—the thousands upon thousands of women, who work while life lasts to serve that sanctuary by night and day—to all these it may not be unwelcome to suggest that the home need be neither a prison, a workhouse, nor a consuming fire.
Home—with all that the sweet word means; home for each of us, in its best sense; yet shorn of its inordinate expenses, freed of its grinding labours, open to the blessed currents of progress that lead and lift us all—this we may have and keep for all time.
It is, therefore, with no iconoclastic frenzy of destruction, but as one bravely pruning a most precious tree, that this book is put forward; inquiring as to what is and what is not vital to the subject; and claiming broadly that with such and such clinging masses cut away, the real home life will be better established and more richly fruitful for good than we have ever known before.