A poem

We women want so many things;
    And first we call for happiness,—
The careless boon the hour brings,
    The smile, the song, and the caress.

And when the fancy fades, we cry,
    Nay, give us one on whom to spend
Our heart's desire! When Love goes by
    With folded wings, we seek a friend.

And then our children come, to prove
    Our hearts but slumbered, and can wake;
And when they go, we're fain to love
    Some other woman's for their sake.

But when both love and friendship fail,
    We cry for duty, work to do;
Some end to gain beyond the pale
    Of self, some height to journey to.

And then, before our task is done,
    With sudden weariness oppressed,
We leave the shining goal unwon,
    And only ask for rest.

This poem originally ran under the byline Edith Jones, Wharton's name until 1885, when she married and took her husband's surname.