The Edict of the Sex

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

   Two thousand years had passed since Christ was born,
   When suddenly there rose a mighty host
   Of women, sweeping to a central goal
   As many rivers sweep on to the sea.
   They came from mountains, valleys, and from coasts,
   And from all lands, all nations, and all ranks,
   Speaking all languages, but thinking one.
   And that one language—Peace.

         ‘Listen,’ they said,
   And straightway was there silence on the earth,
   For men were dumb with wonder and surprise.
   ‘Listen, O mighty masters of the world,
   And hear the edict of all womankind:
   Since Christ His new commandment gave to men,
   _Love one another_, full two thousand years
   Have passed away, yet earth is red with blood.
   The strong male rulers of the world proclaim
   Their weakness, when we ask that war shall cease.
   Now will the poor weak women of the world
   Proclaim their strength, and say that war shall end.
   Hear, then, our edict: Never from this day
   Will any woman on the crust of earth
   Mother a warrior. We have sworn the oath
   And will go barren to the waiting tomb
   Rather than breed strong sons at war’s behest,
   Or bring fair daughters into life, to bear
   The pains of travail, for no end but war.
   Ay! let the race die out for lack of babes
   Better a dying race than endless wars!
   Better a silent world than noise of guns
   And clash of armies.

         ‘Long we asked for peace,
   And oft you promised—but to fight again.
   At last you told us, war must ever be
   While men existed, laughing at our plea
   For the disarmament of all mankind.
   Then in our hearts flamed such a mad desire
   For peace on earth, as lights the world at times
   With some great conflagration; and it spread
   From distant land to land, from sea to sea,
   Until all women thought as with one mind
   And spoke as with one voice; and now behold!
   The great Crusading Syndicate of Peace,
   Filling all space with one supreme resolve.
   Give us, O men, your word that war shall end:
   Disarm the world, and we will give you sons—
   Sons to construct, and daughters to adorn
   A beautiful new earth, where there shall be
   Fewer and finer people, opulence
   And opportunity and peace for all.
   Until you promise peace no shrill birth-cry
   Shall sound again upon the aging earth.
   We wait your answer.’

         And the world was still
   While men considered.


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