A Double Standard

— Frances E.W. Harper

Do you blame me that I loved him!
  If when standing all alone

I cried for bread a careless world
  Pressed to my lips a stone.

Do you blame me that I loved him,
  That my heart beat glad and free,

When he told me in the sweetest tones
  He loved but only me?

Can you blame me that I did not see
  Beneath his burning kiss

The serpent’s wiles, not even hear
  The deadly adder hiss?

Can you blame me that my heart grew cold
  That the tempted, tempter turned;

When he was feted and caressed
  And I was coldly spurned?

Would you blame him, when you draw from me
  Your dainty robes aside,

If he with gilded baits should claim
  Your fairest as his bride!

Would you blame the world if it should press
  On him a civic crown;

And see me struggling in the depth
  Then harshly press me down?

Crime has no sex and yet to-day
  I wear the brand of shame;

Whilst he amid the gay and proud
  Still bears an honored name.

Can you blame me if I’ve learned to think
  Your hate of vice a sham,

When you so coldly crushed me down
  And then excused the man?

Would you blame me if to-morrow
  The coroner should say,

A wretched girl, outcast, forlorn,
  Has thrown her life away?

Yes, blame me for my downward course,
  But oh! remember well,

Within your homes you press the hand
  That led me down to hell.

I’m glad God’s ways are not our ways,
  He does not see as man;

Within His love I know there’s room
  For those whom others ban.

I think before His great white throne,
  His throne of spotless light,

That whited sepulchres shall wear
  The hue of endless night.

That I who fell, and he who sinned,
  Shall reap as we have sown;

That each the burden of his loss
  Mush bear and bear alone.

No golden weights can turn the scale
  Of justice in His sight;

And what is wrong in woman’s life
  In man’s cannot be right.

ATC 55, March-April 1995