Don’t marry a man to reform him;
To God and your own self be true.
Don’t link to his vices your virtue;
You’ll rue it, dear girl, if you do.
No matter how fervent his pleadings,
Be not by his promise led;
If he can’t be a man while a wooing,
He’ll never be one when he’s wed.
Don’t marry a man to reform him—
To repent it, alas, when too late.
The mission of wives least successful
Is the making of crooked limbs straight.
There’s many a maiden has tried it,
And proved it a failure at last;
Better tread your life’s pathway alone, dear,
Than wed with a lover that’s fast.
Mankind’s much the same the world over;
The exceptions you’ll find are but few.
When the rule is defect and disaster,
The chances are great against you.
Don’t trust your bright hopes for the future,
The beautiful crown of your youth,
To the keeping of him who holds lightly
His fair name and honor and truth.
To honor and love you must promise;
Don’t pledge what you can not fulfil.
If he’ll have no respect for himself, dear,
Most surely you then never will.
‘Tis told us the frown of a woman
Is strong as the blow of a man,
And the world will be better when women
Frown on error as hard as they can.
Make virtue the price of your favor;
Place wrong-doing under a ban,
And let him who’d win you and wed you
Prove himself in full measure a man.
— Treasures of Poetry