Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
Three Sonnets
By Florence Kiper Frank
From a sequence
SOME certainty? Some light to guide the way
Pure-burning through the blackness or through murk?
Abstraction—such as Duty, Love, your Work?
O darling, if I could or might or may
Wrest it from living! I can’t. What shall I say!        5
Because for you there’s the individual quirk,
And my salvation grievously might irk
Your living soul that seeks a freer day.
So always, they tell, the generations go….
Yet what’s ahead! This world, this substance strange        10
Gradually we’ve fought clear of, but are slow,
Oh very slow, to fashion and arrange
And melt and mold—blows there an encircling fire
This very hour, white-hot from our great desire!
Suppose you have just a person for a mother!
I at the outset candidly must confess
I’m skeptical of my power to shield and bless.
Yet perhaps I’ll do as well as she, that other,
Idealized! For I swear that I’ll not smother
You—your athletic soul—with lusciousness,        20
Nor precepts redolent of the governess,
Nor padded quilts that serve the mind as cover.
So here we are: I having lived my years
Up to—I hope not half the time allotted;
You a beginner in this vale of tears,        25
Criss-crossed, they say, with sun and shadow blotted.
I can’t assume omniscience. Here’s my hand!
My diffidence I trust you’ll understand.
Woman and freedom! Freedom—it is much.
You’ll hear it often—the tale—how she has cast        30
Gradually the shackles of the past,
And so moves forth transfigured. Such and such
Emerges now the female. So and such
Is she and will be—nun, iconoclast,
Machinist, priestess of Eros, scholiast—        35
Does economist or artist give the touch?
And here you stand or toddle, innocent-clear
Of agony, and of lives and creeds that are breaking.
How shall it be when you are sonneteer,
You girl-child, new with the world that’s in the making?—        40
You girl-child, who shall see what I can’t see
Of what she is! Oh, tell it truthfully!

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