Advice for Her
Who Was Named
A Woman

Julia Hartwig
Since that's how he has stipulated you
since that's how all have stipulated you
live up to their expectations
learn to be whimsical and flirtatious
but above all don't attempt to rely on logic and your brains
you won't match his centuries of experience anyway
and even if you were to succeed
no one will listen to you anyway
for they always listen when a man speaks but ignore a speaking woman

that's how it's been for centuries
people let the words of an old woman pass by their ears
but admire an old man and laugh at his stories

So rule the roost while you're still young
win anything you can while there's still time
tease him and be unfaithful
make him pay for your favors
don't give him a moment of peace nor of contemplation
don't allow him a moment of concentration or of privacy
bandy the concept of betrayal and accuse him of infamies
          of all sorts
may there be pell-mell in your imprecations
may there be no shred of truth in your accusations
believe me there's no defense against such behavior

Also don't forget to humiliate him endlessly
otherwise he may feel he's the master of the world
or accomplish something which would fill him with pride or vanity
distancing him from you
Keep him in mediocrity it passed the test of ages with flying colors
may he not risk too much nor expose himself to public judgment
why should you become the wife of a condemned man or a widow
which is the worst fate for a woman

And when age will change your features and your figure
nag and be petty and cunning
Don't ever allow him to delve into matters removed from daily life
that would be your undoing
his religiosity should not go beyond formulas
and his mind should not engage in higher speculations

Woman I tell you be yourself
Females who became reasonable and yielding
paid too high a price for it and their sacrifices were in vain
I advise you then give in to your instincts of
           thoughtless willfulness and sloth

be selfish and dissolute and the sages' expectations will be fulfilled
you'll confirm folk sayings and the hidden fears of your lover or husband
whose mind and ability to see were taken away by
          momentary madness
but conformity with an accepted custom sanctified the betrothal to a devil
in a woman's skirt

--- From Ambers Aglow:
An Anthology of Contemporary
Polish Women's Poetry

Regina Grol, Editor
© 1996 Host Publications
2717 Wooldridge
Austin TX 78703
Send us e-mail


Go Home

Go to the most recent RALPH