A Woman

Oh, dwarfed and wronged, and stained with ill,
Behold! thou art a woman still!
And, by that sacred name and dear,
I bid thy better self appear.
Still, through thy foul disguise, I see
The rudimental purity,
That, spite of change and loss, makes good
Thy birthright-claim of womanhood;
An inward loathing, deep, intense;
A shame that is half innocence.
Cast off the grave-clothes of thy sin!
Rise from the dust thou liest in,
As Mary rose at Jesus' word,
Redeemed and white before the Lord!
Reclairn thy lost soul! In His name,
Rise up, and break thy bonds of shame.
Art weak? He 's strong. Art fearful? Hear
The world's O'ercomer: 'Be of cheer!'
What lip shall judge when He approves?
Who dare to scorn the child He loves?

by John Greenleaf Whittier

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