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"Advice to a Father"

by Willow Firesong

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Jess her in velvet, and hood her in silk,
Clothe her in satin and jewels and furs.
Chain her in gold, hold them loose as you bilk
The maiden you love of what's rightfully hers.

    Landscapes and vistas unfold for her eyes,
    Tell her a tale of adventurous deeds;
    Make sure that she knows she is lost if she flies
    Wherever she wants, or her heart ever heeds.

Feed her on dainties, on trifle and cream,
Give her whatever you think she should need;
Don't let her ask for more, don't let her scream,
Asking for anything else is just greed.

    You are the man in her life, you know best,
    What will be right for her, what will be wrong.
    Tireless you toil for her, work without rest,
    Teach her due gratitude, how to belong.

Give to your daughters, and give to your wives,
Lessons in patience, and solace, and tact.
How to behave for the rest of their lives;
What they should do, say, think: how to react.

    Adam was right when he tamed the first shrew,
    Born of his body, betraying all men,
    Each time a girl is born, work starts anew,
    To break her, to gentle her, tame her again.

They'll learn, hard or easy, the way to their place,
And others may not be as caring as you,
So break them down now, or the whole human race
Will be waiting, and watching, to see what they do.

    If they turn on a man, whether anger or lust,
    Their fate will be sealed, their sentence pronounced;
    For love of your daughters, don't teach them to trust
    In themselves; for someday that must be renounced.

A man will be there for them, cradle to grave,
To tell them their duty, and teach them their place.
And weed them out quickly, if they should be brave,
And say what they think of his deeds to his face.

    So grieve for slow learners, and grieve for the maid
    Who thinks she can live as she please, proud and tall.
    Destruction will follow, her hand's overplayed;
    Life's death to strong women, so grieve for them all.

March with the mourners, chant doleful the dirge,
Bury them sadly when they fail the test.
Then wend your way homeward, give in to the urge
To rage at your brethren, then act like the rest.

    You are the man in her life, you know best,
    What will be right for her, what will be wrong.
    Tireless you toil for her, work without rest,
    Teach her due gratitude, how to belong.

Give to your daughters, and give to your wives,
Lessons in patience, and solace, and tact.
How to behave for the rest of their lives;
What they should do, say, think: how to react.

    So jess her in velvet, and hood her in silk,
    Clothe her in satin and jewels and furs.
    Chain her in gold, hold them loose as you bilk
    The maiden you love of what's rightfully hers.

Landscapes and vistas unfold for her eyes,
Tell her a tale of adventurous deeds;
Make sure that she knows she is lost if she flies
Wherever she wants, or her heart ever heeds.

(c) 17 August, 1999

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Last updated on January 21, 1999