The Day Of Decision

By George Sterling

Twenty old men will sit around a table,
            To say if madness end!
Twenty old men will say if Man is able
            To call his brother friend!

What shall we have, the vulture or the dove?
What shall we have, undying hate or love?
What shall we have, the blessing of the breath,
Or the stench and the silences of death?

Twenty old men will sit around a table,
            To say if Hate is lord!
Twenty old men will say if Man is able
            To lay aside the sword!

The old men plot, and the young men die.
The old men talk, and the hearts of women cry.
So is it evermore, age against youth,
Greed against giving, and lies against truth!

Twenty old men will sit around a table,
            To say if war shall cease!
Twenty old men will say if Man is able
            To live and love in peace!

What shall we have, the mother and her son
Or the crape on the door when the plotting is done?
Lest sorrow and torment and murder be again,
Let in the light on those twenty old men!

This poem ran on the front page. The main headline that day was that the mayor of San Francisco, James Rolph Jr. ("Sunny Jim"), apparently defeated at the polls, would serve out his term and would consider returning to politics in the future.

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