The Convention

From the Queen Bee mother, the mother Beast, and the mother Fowl in the fen,
A call went up to the human world, to Woman, the mother of men.
The call said, "Come; for we, the dumb, are given speech for a day,
And the things we have thought for a thousand years we are going, at last, to say."

Much they marveled, these women of earth, at the strange and curious call,
And some of them laughed and some of them sneered, but they answered it one and all,
For they wanted to hear what never before was heard since the world began--
The spoken word of Beast and Bird, and the message it held for Man.

"A plea for shelter," the women said, "or food in the wintry weathers,
Or a foolish request that we be dressed without their furs or feathers.
We will do what we can for the poor dumb things, but they must be sensible." Then
The meeting was called, and a she bear stood and voiced the thought of the fen.

"Now this is the message we give to you" (it was thus the she bear spake)
"You, the creatures of homes and shrines, and we of the wold and brake.
We have no churches; we have no schools, and our minds you question and doubt,
But we follow the laws which some Great Cause, alike for us all, laid out.

"We eat and we drink to live; we shun the things that poison and kill;
And we settle the problems of sex and birth by the law of the female will,
For never was one of us known by a male, or made to mother its kind,
Unless there went from our minds consent (or from what we call the mind).

"But you, the highest of all she things, you gorge yourselves at your feasts,
And you smoke and drink in a way we think would lower the standard of beasts;
For a ring and a roof and a rag you are bought by your males, to have and to hold;
And you mate and you breed without nature's need, while your hearts and your bodies are cold.

"All unwanted your offspring come, or you slay them before they are born,
And now we wild she things of the earth have spoken and told our scorn.
We have no minds and we have no souls, maybe as you think--and still,
Never one of us ate or drank the things that poison and kill,
And never was one of us known by a male except by our wish and will."

World Voices by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
New York : Hearst's International Library Company 1916.

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