Ambrose Bierce

Alone – Ambrose Bierce

Alone – Ambrose Bierce

In contact, lo! the flint and steel, By sharp and flame, the thought reveal That he the metal, she the stone, Had cherished secretly alone. Booley Fito. ~ Alone – Ambrose Bierce »

To The Bartholdi Statue By Ambrose Bierce

To The Bartholdi Statue By Ambrose Bierce

To The Bartholdi Statue O Liberty, God-gifted– Young and immortal maid– In your high hand uplifted, The torch declares your trade. Its crimson menace, flaming Upon the sea and shore, Is, trumpet-like, proclaiming That Law shall be no more. Austere incendiary, We’re blinking in the ... »

The Confederate Flags By Ambrose Bierce

The Confederate Flags By Ambrose Bierce

The Confederate Flags Tut-tut! give back the flags – how can you care, You veterans and heroes? Why should you at a kind intention swear Like twenty Neros? Suppose the act was not so overwise – Suppose it was illegal; Is’t well on such a question to arise And punch the Eagle? Nay, ... »

L’audace By Ambrose Bierce

L’audace By Ambrose Bierce

L’Audace Daughter of God! Audacity divine Of clowns the terror and of brains the sign Not thou the inspirer of the rushing fool, Not thine of idiots the vocal drool: Thy bastard sister of the brow of brass, Presumption, actuates the charging ass. Sky-born Audacity! of thee who sings Should str... »

Francine By Ambrose Bierce

Francine By Ambrose Bierce

Francine Did I believe the angels soon would call You, my beloved, to the other shore, And I should never see you any more, I love you so I know that I should fall Into dejection utterly, and all Love’s pretty pageantry, wherein we bore Twin banners bravely in the tumult’s fore, Would se... »

Convalescent By Ambrose Bierce

Convalescent By Ambrose Bierce

Convalescent What! ‘Out of danger?’ Can the slighted Dame Or canting Pharisee no more defame? Will Treachery caress my hand no more, Nor Hatred He alurk about my door? Ingratitude, with benefits dismissed, Not close the loaded palm to make a fist? Will Envy henceforth not retaliate For v... »

Another Way By Ambrose Bierce

Another Way By Ambrose Bierce

Another Way I lay in silence, dead. A woman came And laid a rose upon my breast, and said, ‘May God be merciful.’ She spoke my name, And added, ‘It is strange to think him dead. ‘He loved me well enough, but ‘t was his way To speak it lightly.’ Then, beneath her b... »

A Vision Of Resurrection By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Resurrection By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Resurrection I had a dream. The habitable earth Its continents and islands, all were bare Of cities and of forests. Naught remained Of its old aspect, and I only knew (As men know things in dreams, unknowing how) That this was earth and that all men were dead. On every side I saw the bar... »

A Fair Division By Ambrose Bierce

A Fair Division By Ambrose Bierce

A Fair Division Another Irish landlord gone to grass, Slain by the bullets of the tenant class! Pray, good agrarians, what wrong requires Such foul redress? Between you and the squires All Ireland’s parted with an even hand For you have all the ire, they all the land. »

The Unfallen Brave By Ambrose Bierce

The Unfallen Brave By Ambrose Bierce

The Unfallen Brave Not all in sorrow and in tears, To pay of gratitude’s arrears The yearly sum Not prompted, wholly by the pride Of those for whom their friends have died, To-day we come. Another aim we have in view Than for the buried boys in blue To dropp a tear: Memorial Day revives the ch... »

One Judge By Ambrose Bierce

One Judge By Ambrose Bierce

One Judge Wallace, created on a noble plan To show us that a Judge can be a Man; Through moral mire exhaling mortal stench God-guided sweet and foot-clean to the Bench; In salutation here and sign I lift A hand as free as yours from lawless thrift, A heart-ah, would I truly could proclaim My bosom l... »

In Upper San Francisco By Ambrose Bierce

In Upper San Francisco By Ambrose Bierce

In Upper San Francisco I heard that Heaven was bright and fair, And politicians dwelt not there. ‘Twas said by knowing ones that they Were in the Elsewhere-so to say. So, waking from my last long sleep, I took my place among the sheep. I passed the gate-Saint Peter eyed Me sharply as I stepped... »

Famine’s Realm By Ambrose Bierce

Famine’s Realm By Ambrose Bierce

Famine’s Realm To him in whom the love of Nature has Imperfectly supplanted the desire And dread necessity of food, your shore, Fair Oakland, is a terror. Over all Your sunny level, from Tamaletown To where the Pestuary’s fragrant slime, With dead dogs studded, bears its ailing fleet, Br... »

California By Ambrose Bierce

California By Ambrose Bierce

California Why should he not have been allowed To thread with peaceful feet the crowd Which filled that Christian street? The Decalogue he had observed, From Faith in Jesus had not swerved, And scorning pious platitudes, He saw in the Beatitudes A lamp to guide his feet. He knew that Jonah downed th... »

An Example By Ambrose Bierce

An Example By Ambrose Bierce

An Example They were two deaf mutes, and they loved and they Resolved to be groom and bride; And they listened to nothing that any could say, Nor ever a word replied. From wedlock when warned by the married men, Maintain an invincible mind: Be deaf and dumb until wedded-and then Be deaf and dumb and... »

A ‘scion Of Nobility’ By Ambrose Bierce

A ‘scion Of Nobility’ By Ambrose Bierce

A ‘scion Of Nobility’ Come, sisters, weep!-our Baron dear, Alas! has run away. If always we had kept him here He had not gone astray. Painter and grainer it were vain To say he was, before; And if he were, yet ne’er again He’ll darken here a door. We mourn each matrimonial pl... »

A Celebrated Case By Ambrose Bierce

A Celebrated Case By Ambrose Bierce

A Celebrated Case Way down in the Boom Belt lived Mrs. Roselle; A person named Petrie, he lived there as well; But Mr. Roselle he resided away Sing tooral iooral iooral iay. Once Mrs. Roselle in her room was alone: The flesh of her flesh and the bone of her bone Neglected the wife of his bosom to wo... »

Two Statesmen By Ambrose Bierce

Two Statesmen By Ambrose Bierce

Two Statesmen In that fair city by the inland sea, Where Blaine unhived his Presidential bee, Frank Pixley’s meeting with George Gorham sing, Celestial muse, and what events did spring From the encounter of those mighty sons Of thunder, and of slaughter, and of guns. Great Gorham first, his ye... »

The Key Note By Ambrose Bierce

The Key Note By Ambrose Bierce

The Key Note I dreamed I was dreaming one morn as I lay In a garden with flowers teeming. On an island I lay in a mystical bay, In the dream I dreamed I was dreaming. The ghost of a scent-had it followed me there From the place where I truly was resting? It filled like an anthem the aisles of the ai... »

Mendax By Ambrose Bierce

Mendax By Ambrose Bierce

Mendax High Lord of Liars, Pickering, to thee Let meaner mortals bend the subject knee! Thine is mendacity’s imperial crown, Alike by genius, action and renown. No man, since words could set a cheek aflame E’er lied so greatly with so little shame! O bad old man, must thy remaining years... »

Haec Fabula Docet By Ambrose Bierce

Haec Fabula Docet By Ambrose Bierce

Haec Fabula Docet A rat who’d gorged a box of bane And suffered an internal pain, Came from his hole to die (the label Required it if the rat were able) And found outside his habitat A limpid stream. Of bane and rat ‘T was all unconscious; in the sun It ran and prattled just for fun. Kee... »

Discretion By Ambrose Bierce

Discretion By Ambrose Bierce

Discretion SHE: I’m told that men have sometimes got Too confidential, and Have said to one another what They-well, you understand. I hope I don’t offend you, sweet, But are you sure that _you’re_ discreet? HE: ‘Tis true, sometimes my friends in wine Their conquests _do_ reca... »

Azrael By Ambrose Bierce

Azrael By Ambrose Bierce

Azrael The moon in the field of the keel-plowed main Was watching the growing tide: A luminous peasant was driving his wain, And he offered my soul a ride. But I nourished a sorrow uncommonly tall, And I fixed him fast with mine eye. ‘O, peasant,’ I sang with a dying fall, ‘Go leav... »

Ad Moodium By Ambrose Bierce

Ad Moodium By Ambrose Bierce

Ad Moodium Tut! Moody, do not try to show To gentlemen and ladies That if they have not ‘Faith,’ they’ll go Headlong to Hades. Faith is belief; and how can I Have that by being willing? This dime I cannot, though I try, Believe a shilling. Perhaps you can. If so, pray do- Believe y... »

A Political Apostate By Ambrose Bierce

A Political Apostate By Ambrose Bierce

A Political Apostate Good friend, it is with deep regret I note The latest, strangest turning of your coat; Though any way you wear that mental clout The seamy side seems always to be out. Who could have thought that you would e’er sustain The Southern shotgun’s arbitrary reign! Your stu... »

Yorick By Ambrose Bierce

Yorick By Ambrose Bierce

Yorick Hard by an excavated street one sat In solitary session on the sand; And ever and anon he spake and spat And spake again-a yellow skull in hand, To which that retrospective Pioneer Addressed the few remarks that follow here: ‘Who are you? Did you come ‘der blains agross,’ Or... »

The Yearly Lie By Ambrose Bierce

The Yearly Lie By Ambrose Bierce

The Yearly Lie A merry Christmas? Prudent, as I live! You wish me something that you need not give. Merry or sad, what does it signify? To you ‘t is equal if I laugh, or die. Your hollow greeting, like a parrot’s jest, Finds all its meaning in the ear addressed. Why ‘merry’ C... »

The Boss’s Choice By Ambrose Bierce

The Boss’s Choice By Ambrose Bierce

The Boss’s Choice Listen to his wild romances: He advances foolish fancies, Each expounded as his ‘view’ Gu. In his brain’s opacous clot, ah He has got a maggot! What a Man with ‘views’ to overwhelm us! Gulielmus. Hear his demagogic clamor Hear him stammer in his ... »

Justice By Ambrose Bierce

Justice By Ambrose Bierce

Justice Jack Doe met Dick Roe, whose wife he loved, And said: ‘I will get the best of him.’ So pulling a knife from his boot, he shoved It up to the hilt in the breast of him. Then he moved that weapon forth and back, Enlarging the hole he had made with it, Till the smoking liver fell ou... »

Four Of A Kind By Ambrose Bierce

Four Of A Kind By Ambrose Bierce

Four Of A Kind ROBERT F. MORROW Dear man! although a stranger and a foe To soft affection’s humanizing glow; Although untaught how manly hearts may throb With more desires than the desire to rob; Although as void of tenderness as wit, And owning nothing soft but Maurice Schmitt; Although pollu... »

Convalescent (By Good Men’s Prayers See Grant Restored) By Ambrose Bierce

Convalescent (By Good Men’s Prayers See Grant Restored) By Ambrose Bierce

Convalescent (By Good Men’s Prayers See Grant Restored) ‘By good men’s prayers see Grant restored!’ Shouts Talmage, pious creature! Yes, God, by supplication bored From every droning preacher, Exclaimed: ‘So be it, tiresome crew But I’ve a crow to pick with _you_.... »

An Unmerry Christmas By Ambrose Bierce

An Unmerry Christmas By Ambrose Bierce

An Unmerry Christmas Christmas, you tell me, comes but once a year. One place it never comes, and that is here. Here, in these pages no good wishes spring, No well-worn greetings tediously ring For Christmas greetings are like pots of ore: The hollower they are they ring the more. Here shall no holl... »

A Vision Of Climate By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Climate By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Climate I dreamed that I was poor and sick and sad, Broken in hope and weary of my life; My ventures all miscarrying-naught had For all my labor in the heat and strife. And in my heart some certain thoughts were rife Of an unsummoned exit. As I lay Considering my bitter state, I cried: &... »

A Demand By Ambrose Bierce

A Demand By Ambrose Bierce

A Demand You promised to paint me a picture, Dear Mat, And I was to pay you in rhyme. Although I am loth to inflict your Most easy of consciences, I’m Of opinion that fibbing is awful, And breaking a contract unlawful, Indictable, too, as a crime, A slight and all that. If, Lady Unbountiful, a... »

Woman In Politics By Ambrose Bierce

Woman In Politics By Ambrose Bierce

Woman In Politics What, madam, run for School Director? You? And want my vote and influence? Well, well, That beats me! Gad! where _are_ we drifting to? In all my life I never have heard tell Of such sublime presumption, and I smell A nigger in the fence! Excuse me, madam; We statesmen sometimes spe... »

The Transmigrations Of A Soul By Ambrose Bierce

The Transmigrations Of A Soul By Ambrose Bierce

The Transmigrations Of A Soul What! Pixley, must I hear you call the roll Of all the vices that infest your soul? Was’t not enough that lately you did bawl Your money-worship in the ears of all? Still must you crack your brazen cheek to tell That though a miser you’re a sot as well? Stil... »

One And One Are Two By Ambrose Bierce

One And One Are Two By Ambrose Bierce

One And One Are Two The trumpet sounded and the dead Came forth from earth and ocean, And Pickering arose and sped Aloft with wobbling motion. ‘What makes him fly lop-sided?’ cried A soul of the elected. ‘One ear was wax,’ a rogue replied, ‘And isn’t resurrected.&... »

Invocation By Ambrose Bierce

Invocation By Ambrose Bierce

Invocation Goddess of Liberty! O thou Whose tearless eyes behold the chain, And look unmoved upon the slain, Eternal peace upon thy brow,- Before thy shrine the races press, Thy perfect favor to implore- The proudest tyrant asks no more, The ironed anarchist no less. Thine altar-coals that touch the... »

Fame [One Thousand Years I Slept Beneath The Sod] By Ambrose Bierce

Fame [One Thousand Years I Slept Beneath The Sod] By Ambrose Bierce

Fame One thousand years I slept beneath the sod, My sleep in 1901 beginning, Then, by the action of some scurvy god Who happened then to recollect my sinning, I was revived and given another inning. On breaking from my grave I saw a crowd A formless multitude of men and women, Gathered about a ruin.... »

Cain By Ambrose Bierce

Cain By Ambrose Bierce

Cain Lord, shed thy light upon his desert path, And gild his branded brow, that no man spill His forfeit life to balk thy holy will That spares him for the ripening of wrath. Already, lo! the red sign is descried, To trembling jurors visibly revealed: The prison doors obediently yield, The baffled h... »

An Imposter By Ambrose Bierce

An Imposter By Ambrose Bierce

An Imposter Must you, Carnegie, evermore explain Your worth, and all the reasons give again Why black and red are similarly white, And you and God identically right? Still must our ears without redress submit To hear you play the solemn hypocrite Walking in spirit some high moral level, Raising at o... »

A Retort By Ambrose Bierce

A Retort By Ambrose Bierce

A Retort As vicious women think all men are knaves, And shrew-bound gentlemen discourse of slaves; As reeling drunkards judge the world unsteady And idlers swear employers ne’er get ready Thieves that the constable stole all they had, The mad that all except themselves are mad; So, in another&... »

A Challenge By Ambrose Bierce

A Challenge By Ambrose Bierce

A Challenge A bull imprisoned in a stall Broke boldly the confining wall, And found himself, when out of bounds, Within a washerwoman’s grounds. Where, hanging on a line to dry, A crimson skirt inflamed his eye. With bellowings that woke the dead, He bent his formidable head, With pointed horn... »

Two Rogues By Ambrose Bierce

Two Rogues By Ambrose Bierce

Two Rogues Dim, grim, and silent as a ghost, The sentry occupied his post, To all the stirrings of the night Alert of ear and sharp of sight. A sudden something-sight or sound, About, above, or underground, He knew not what, nor where-ensued, Thrilling the sleeping solitude. The soldier cried: ̵... »

The Humorist By Ambrose Bierce

The Humorist By Ambrose Bierce

The Humorist ‘What is that, mother?’ ‘The funny man, child. His hands are black, but his heart is mild.’ ‘May I touch him, mother?’ ”T were foolishly done: He is slightly touched already, my son.’ ‘O, why does he wear such a ghastly grin?’ ... »

Metempsychosis [Once With Christ He Entered Salem] By Ambrose Bierce

Metempsychosis [Once With Christ He Entered Salem] By Ambrose Bierce

Metempsychosis [once With Christ He Entered Salem] Once with Christ he entered Salem, Once in Moab bullied Balaam, Once by Apuleius staged He the pious much enraged. And, again, his head, as beaver, Topped the neck of Nick the Weaver. Omar saw him (minus tether Free and wanton as the weather: Knowin... »

Geotheos By Ambrose Bierce

Geotheos By Ambrose Bierce

Geotheos As sweet as the look of a lover Saluting the eyes of a maid That blossom to blue as the maid Is ablush to the glances above her, The sunshine is gilding the glade And lifting the lark out of shade. Sing therefore high praises, and therefore Sing songs that are ancient as gold, Of earth in h... »

‘died Of A Rose’ By Ambrose Bierce

‘died Of A Rose’ By Ambrose Bierce

‘Died Of A Rose’ A reporter he was, and he wrote, wrote he: ‘The grave was covered as thick as could be With floral tributes’-which reading, The editor man he said, he did so: ‘For ‘floral tributes’ he’s got for to go, For I hold the same misleading.&#... »

At The ‘national Encampment’ By Ambrose Bierce

At The ‘national Encampment’ By Ambrose Bierce

At The ‘National Encampment’ You ‘re grayer than one would have thought you: The climate you have over there In the East has apparently brought you Disorders affecting the hair, Which-pardon me-seems a thought spare. You’ll not take offence at my giving Expression to notions ... »

Ad Cattonum By Ambrose Bierce

Ad Cattonum By Ambrose Bierce

Ad Cattonum I know not, Mr. Catton, who you are, Nor very clearly why; but you go far To show that you are many things beside A Chilean Consul with a tempting hide; But what they are I hardly could explain Without afflicting you with mental pain. Your name (gods! what a name the muse to woo Suggesti... »

A Poet’s Father By Ambrose Bierce

A Poet’s Father By Ambrose Bierce

A Poet’s Father Welcker, I’m told, can boast a father great And honored in the service of the State. Public Instruction all his mind employs He guides its methods and its wage enjoys. Prime Pedagogue, imperious and grand, He waves his ferule o’er a studious land Where humming youth... »

The Woman And The Devil By Ambrose Bierce

The Woman And The Devil By Ambrose Bierce

The Woman And The Devil When Man and Woman had been made, All but the disposition, The Devil to the workshop strayed, And somehow gained admission. The Master rested from his work, For this was on a Sunday, The man was snoring like a Turk, Content to wait till Monday. ‘Too bad!’ the Woma... »

The Birth Of The Rail By Ambrose Bierce

The Birth Of The Rail By Ambrose Bierce

The Birth Of The Rail DRAMATIS PERSONAE LELAND, THE KID _a Road Agent_ COWBOY CHARLEY _Same Line of Business_ HAPPY HUNTY _Ditto in All Respects_ SOOTYMUG _a Devil_ _Scene_-the Dutch Flat Stage Road, at 12 P.M., on a Night of 1864. COWBOY CHARLEY: My boss, I fear she is delayed to-night. Already it ... »

Judgment By Ambrose Bierce

Judgment By Ambrose Bierce

Judgment I drew aside the Future’s veil And saw upon his bier The poet Whitman. Loud the wail And damp the falling tear. ‘He’s dead-he is no more!’ one cried, With sobs of sorrow crammed; ‘No more? He’s this much more,’ replied Another: ‘he is damned!&... »

France By Ambrose Bierce

France By Ambrose Bierce

France Unhappy State! with horrors still to strive: Thy Hugo dead, thy Boulanger alive; A Prince who’d govern where he dares not dwell, And who for power would his birthright sell Who, anxious o’er his enemies to reign, Grabs at the scepter and conceals the chain; While pugnant factions ... »

Contentment By Ambrose Bierce

Contentment By Ambrose Bierce

Contentment Sleep fell upon my senses and I dreamed Long years had circled since my life had fled. The world was different, and all things seemed Remote and strange, like noises to the dead. And one great Voice there was; and something said: ‘Posterity is speaking-rightly deemed Infallible:... »

Another Plan By Ambrose Bierce

Another Plan By Ambrose Bierce

Another Plan Editor Owen, of San Jose, Commonly known as ‘our friend J.J.’ Weary of scribbling for daily bread, Weary of writing what nobody read, Slept one day at his desk and dreamed That an angel before him stood and beamed With compassionate eyes upon him there. Editor Owen is not so... »

A Vision Of Doom By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Doom By Ambrose Bierce

A Vision Of Doom I stood upon a hill. The setting sun Was crimson with a curse and a portent, And scarce his angry ray lit up the land That lay below, whose lurid gloom appeared Freaked with a moving mist, which, reeking up From dim tarns hateful with some horrid ban, Took shapes forbidden and witho... »

A Demagogue By Ambrose Bierce

A Demagogue By Ambrose Bierce

A Demagogue Yawp, yawp, yawp! Under the moon and sun. It’s aye the rabble, And I to gabble, And hey! for the tale that is never done. ‘Chant, chant, chant! To woo the reluctant vote. I would I were dead And my say were said And my song were sung to its ultimate note. ‘Stab, stab, s... »

Weather By Ambrose Bierce

Weather By Ambrose Bierce

Weather Once I dipt into the future far as human eye could see, And I saw the Chief Forecaster, dead as any one can be– Dead and damned and shut in Hades as a liar from his birth, With a record of unreason seldome paralleled on earth. While I looked he reared him solemnly, that incandescent yo... »