Ambrose Bierce.

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We gave, O gallant brother;
And o'er thy grave the awkward squad
Fired into one another!

Beneath this monument which rears its head.
A giant note of admiration - dead,
His life extinguished like a taper's flame.
John Ericsson is lying in his fame.
Behold how massive is the lofty shaft;
How fine the product of the sculptor's craft;
The gold how lavishly applied; the great
Man's statue how impressive and sedate!
Think what the cost-was! It would ill become
Our modesty to specify the sum;
Suffice it that a fair per cent, we're giving
Of what we robbed him of when he was living.

Of Corporal Tanner the head and the trunk
Are here in unconsecrate ground duly sunk.
His legs in the South claim the patriot's tear,
But, stranger, you needn't be blubbering here.

Jay Gould lies here. When he was newly dead
He looked so natural that round his bed

The people stood, in silence all, to weep.
They thought, poor souls! that he did only sleep.

Here Ingalls, sorrowing, has laid
The tools of his infernal trade -
His pen and tongue. So sharp and rude
They grew - so slack in gratitude,
His hand was wounded as he wrote,
And when he spoke he cut his throat.

Within this humble mausoleum
Poor Guiteau's flesh you'll find.
His bones are kept in a museum,
And Tillman has his mind.

Stranger, uncover; here you have in view
The monument of Chauncey M. Depew.
Eater and orator, the whole world round
For feats of tongue and tooth alike renowned.
Pauper in thought but prodigal in speech,
Nothing he knew excepting how to teach.
But in default of something to impart
He multiplied his words with all his heart:
When least he had to say, instructive most -
A clam in wisdom and in wit a ghost.

Dining his way to eminence, he rowed
With knife and fork up water-ways that flowed
From lakes of favor - pulled with all his force
And found each river sweeter than the source.
Like rats, obscure beneath a kitchen floor,
Gnawing and rising till obscure no more,
He ate his way to eminence, and Fame
Inscribes in gravy his immortal name.
A trencher-knight, he, mounted on his belly,
So spurred his charger that its sides were jelly.
Grown desperate at last, it reared and threw him,
And Indigestion, overtaking, slew him.

Here the remains of Schuyler Colfax lie;
Born, all the world knows when, and Heaven knows why.
In '71 he filled the public eye,
In '72 he bade the world good-bye,
In God's good time, with a protesting sigh,
He came to life just long enough to die.

Of Morgan here lies the unspirited clay,
Who secrets of Masonry swore to betray.
He joined the great Order and studied with zeal
The awful arcana he meant to reveal.
At last in chagrin by his own hand he fell -
There was nothing to learn, there was nothing to tell.


God's people sorely were oppressed,
I heard their lamentations long; -
I hear their singing, clear and strong,
I see their banners in the West!

The captains shout the battle-cry,
The legions muster in their might;
They turn their faces to the light,
They lift their arms, they testify:

"We sank beneath the Master's thong,
Our chafing chains were ne'er undone; -
Now clash your lances in the sun
And bless your banners with a song!

"God bides his time with patient eyes
While tyrants build upon the land; -
He lifts his face, he lifts his hand,
And from the stones his temples rise.

"Now Freedom waves her joyous wing
Beyond the foemen's shields of gold.
March forward, singing, for, behold,
The right shall rule while God is king!"


Because that I am weak, my love, and ill,
I cannot follow the impatient feet
Of my desire, but sit and watch the beat
Of the unpitying pendulum fulfill
The hour appointed for the air to thrill
And brighten at your coming. O my sweet,
The tale of moments is at last complete -
The tryst is broken on the gusty hill!
O lady, faithful-footed, loyal-eyed,
The long leagues silence me; yet doubt me not;
Think rather that the clock and sun have lied
And all too early, you have sought the spot.
For lo! despair has darkened all the light,
And till I see your face it still is night.


Good for he's old? Ah, Youth, you do not dream
How sweet the roses in the autumn seem!


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 like these.
You might have been stronger if living
Out here in our sanative breeze.
It's unhealthy here for disease.

No, I'm not as plump as a pullet.
But that's the old wound, you see.
Remember my paunching a bullet? -
And how that it didn't agree
With - well, honest hardtack for me.

Just pass me the wine - I've a helly
And horrible kind of drouth!
When a fellow has that in his belly
Which didn't go in at his mouth
He's hotter than all Down South!

Great Scott! what a nasty day _that_ was -
When every galoot in our crack
Division who didn't lie flat was
Dissuaded from further attack
By the bullet's felicitous whack.

'Twas there that our major slept under
Some cannon of ours on the crest,
Till they woke him by stilling their thunder,
And he cursed them for breaking his rest,
And died in the midst of his jest.

That night - it was late in November -
The dead seemed uncommonly chill
To the touch; and one chap I remember
Who took it exceedingly ill
When I dragged myself over his bill.

Well, comrades, I'm off now - good morning.
Your talk is as pleasant as pie,
But, pardon me, one word of warning:
Speak little of self, say I.
That's my way. God bless you. Good-bye.


Abundant bores afflict this world, and some
Are bores of magnitude that-come and - no,
They're always coming, but they never go -
Like funeral pageants, as they drone and hum
Their lurid nonsense like a muffled drum,
Or bagpipe's dread unnecessary flow.
But one superb tormentor I can show -
Prince Fiddlefaddle, Duc de Feefawfum.
He the johndonkey is who, when I pen
Amorous verses in an idle mood
To nobody, or of her, reads them through
And, smirking, says he knows the lady; then
Calls me sly dog. I wish he understood
This tender sonnet's application too.


What wrecked the Roman power? One says vice,
Another indolence, another dice.
Emascle says polygamy. "Not so,"
Says Impycu - "'twas luxury and show."
The parson, lifting up a brow of brass,
Swears superstition gave the _coup de gr√Ґce_,
Great Allison, the statesman-chap affirms
'Twas lack of coins (croaks Medico: "'T was worms")
And John P. Jones the swift suggestion collars,
Averring the no coins were silver dollars.
Thus, through the ages, each presuming quack
Turns the poor corpse upon its rotten back,
Holds a new "autopsy" and finds that death
Resulted partly from the want of breath,
But chiefly from some visitation sad
That points his argument or serves his fad.
They're all in error - never human mind
The cause of the disaster has divined.
What slew the Roman power? Well, provided
You'll keep the secret, I will tell you. I did.


To a hunter from the city,
Overtaken by the night,
Spake, in tones of tender pity
For himself, an aged wight:

"I have found the world a fountain
Of deceit and Life a sham.
I have taken to the mountain
And a Holy Hermit am.

"Sternly bent on Contemplation,
Far apart from human kind - -
In the hill my habitation,
In the Infinite my mind.

"Ten long years I've lived a dumb thing,
Growing bald and bent with dole.
Vainly seeking for a Something
To engage my gloomy soul.

"Gentle Pilgrim, while my roots you
Eat, and quaff my simple drink,
Please suggest whatever suits you
As a Theme for me to Think."

Then the hunter answered gravely:
"From distraction free, and strife,
You could ponder very bravely
On the Vanity of Life."

"O, thou wise and learned Teacher,
You have solved the Problem well -
You have saved a grateful creature
From the agonies of hell.

"Take another root, another
Cup of water: eat and drink.
Now I have a Subject, brother,
Tell me What, and How, to think."


Affronting fool, subdue your transient light;
When Wisdom's dull dares Folly to be bright:
If Genius stumble in the path to fame,
'Tis decency in dunces to go lame.


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" Christmas? Faith, I'd rather frown
Than grin and caper like a tickled clown.

When fools are merry the judicious weep;
The wise are happy only when asleep.

A present? Pray you give it to disarm
A man more powerful to do you harm.

'T was not your motive? Well, I cannot let
You pay for favors that you'll never get.

Perish the savage custom of the gift,
Founded in terror and maintained in thrift!

What men of honor need to aid their weal
They purchase, or, occasion serving, steal.

Go celebrate the day with turkeys, pies,
Sermons and psalms, and, for the children, lies.

Let Santa Claus descend again the flue;
If Baby doubt it, swear that it is true.

"A lie well stuck to is as good as truth,"
And God's too old to legislate for youth.

Hail Christmas! On my knees and fowl I fall:
For greater grace and better gravy call.
_Vive l'Humbug!_ - that's to say, God bless us all!


No more the swindler singly seeks his prey;
To hunt in couples is the modern way -
A rascal, from the public to purloin,
An honest man to hide away the coin.


A traveler observed one day
A loaded fruit-tree by the way.
And reining in his horse exclaimed:
"The man is greatly to be blamed
Who, careless of good morals, leaves
Temptation in the way of thieves.
Now lest some villain pass this way
And by this fruit be led astray
To bag it, I will kindly pack
It snugly in my saddle-sack."
He did so; then that Salt o' the Earth
Rode on, rejoicing in his worth.


Cried Allen Forman: "Doctor, pray
Compose my spirits' strife:
O what may be my chances, say,
Of living all my life?

"For lately I have dreamed of high
And hempen dissolution!
O doctor, doctor, how can I
Amend my constitution?"

The learned leech replied: "You're young
And beautiful and strong -
Permit me to inspect your tongue:
H'm, ah, ahem! - 'tis long."


O, hadst thou died when thou wert great,
When at thy feet a nation knelt
To sob the gratitude it felt
And thank the Saviour of the State,
Gods might have envied thee thy fate!

Then was the laurel round thy brow,
And friend and foe spoke praise of thee,
While all our hearts sang victory.
Alas! thou art too base to bow
To hide the shame that brands it now.


A recent republication of the late Gen. John A. Dix's disappointing
translation of this famous medieval hymn, together with some researches
into its history which I happened to be making at the time, induces me
to undertake a translation myself. It may seem presumption in me to
attempt that which so many eminent scholars of so many generations have
attempted before me; but the conspicuous failure of others encourages me
to hope that success, being still unachieved, is still achievable. The
fault of previous translations, from Lord Macaulay's to that of Gen.
Dix, has been, I venture to think, a too strict literalness, whereby the
delicate irony and subtle humor of the immortal poem - though doubtless
these admirable qualities were well appreciated by the translators - have
been utterly sacrificed in the result. In none of the English versions
that I have examined is more than a trace of the mocking spirit of
insincerity pervading the whole prayer, - the cool effrontery of the
suppliant in enumerating his demerits, his serenely illogical demands of
salvation in spite, or rather because, of them, his meek submission
to the punishment of others, and the many similarly pleasing
characteristics of this amusing work, being most imperfectly conveyed.
By permitting myself a reasonable freedom of rendering - in many cases
boldly supplying that "missing link" between the sublime and the
ridiculous which the author, writing for the acute monkish apprehension
of the 13th century, did not deem it necessary to insert - I have hoped
at least partially to liberate the lurking devil of humor from his
fetters, letting him caper, not, certainly, as he does in the Latin, but
as he probably would have done had his creator written in English. In
preserving the metre and double rhymes of the original, I have acted
from the same reverent regard for the music with which, in the liturgy
of the Church, the verses have become inseparably wedded that inspired
Gen. Dix; seeking rather to surmount the obstacles to success by honest
effort, than to avoid them by the adoption of an easier versification
which would have deprived my version of all utility in religious

I must bespeak the reader's charitable consideration in respect of the
first stanza, the insuperable difficulties of which seem to have been
purposely contrived in order to warn off trespassers at the
very boundary of the alluring domain. I have got over the
inhibition - somehow - but David and the Sibyl must try to forgive me
if they find themselves represented merely by the names of those
conspicuous personal qualities to which they probably owed,
respectively, their powers of prophecy, as Samson's strength lay in his


Dies irae! dies ilia!
Solvet saeclum in favilla
Teste David cum Sibylla.

Quantus tremor est futurus,
Quando Judex est venturus.
Cuncta stricte discussurus.

Tuba mirum spargens sonum
Per sepulchra regionem,
Coget omnes ante thronum.

Mors stupebit, et Natura,
Quum resurget creatura
Judicanti responsura.

Liber scriptus proferetur,
In quo totum continetur,
Unde mundus judicetur.

Judex ergo quum sedebit,
Quicquid latet apparebit,
Nil inultum remanebit.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus,
Quem patronem rogaturus,
Quum vix justus sit securus?

Rex tremendae majestatis,
Qui salvandos salvas gratis;
Salva me, Fons pietatis

Recordare, Jesu pie
Quod sum causa tuae viae;
Ne me perdas illa die.

Quarens me sedisti lassus
Redimisti crucem passus,
Tantus labor non sit cassus.

Juste Judex ultionis,
Donum fac remissionis
Ante diem rationis.

Ingemisco tanquam reus,
Culpa rubet vultus meus;
Supplicanti parce, Deus.

Qui Mariam absolvisti
Et latronem exaudisti,
Mihi quoque spem dedisti.

Preces meae non sunt dignae,
Sed tu bonus fac benigne
Ne perenni cremer igne.

Inter oves locum praesta.
Et ab haedis me sequestra,
Statuens in parte dextra.

Confutatis maledictis,
Flammis acribus addictis,
Voca me cum benedictis.

Oro supplex et acclinis,
Cor contritum quasi cinis;
Gere curam mei finis.

Lacrymosa dies illa
Qua resurgent et favilla,
Judicandus homo reus
Huic ergo parce, Deus!


Day of Satan's painful duty!
Earth shall vanish, hot and sooty;
So says Virtue, so says Beauty.

Ah! what terror shall be shaping
When the Judge the truth's undraping!
Cats from every bag escaping!

Now the trumpet's invocation
Calls the dead to condemnation;
All receive an invitation.

Death and Nature now are quaking,
And the late lamented, waking,
In their breezy shrouds are shaking.

Lo! the Ledger's leaves are stirring,
And the Clerk, to them referring,
Makes it awkward for the erring.

When the Judge appears in session,
We shall all attend confession,
Loudly preaching non-suppression.

How shall I then make romances
Mitigating circumstances?
Even the just must take their chances.

King whose majesty amazes.
Save thou him who sings thy praises;
Fountain, quench my private blazes.

Pray remember, sacred Savior,
Mine the playful hand that gave your
Death-blow. Pardon such behavior.

Seeking me fatigue assailed thee,
Calvary's outlook naught availed thee:
Now 't were cruel if I failed thee.

Righteous judge and learned brother,
Pray thy prejudices smother
Ere we meet to try each other.

Sighs of guilt my conscience gushes,
And my face vermilion flushes;
Spare me for my pretty blushes.

Thief and harlot, when repenting,
Thou forgav'st - be complimenting
Me with sign of like relenting.

If too bold is my petition
I'll receive with due submission
My dismissal - from perdition.

When thy sheep thou hast selected
From the goats, may I, respected,
Stand amongst them undetected.

When offenders are indicted,
And with trial-flames ignited,
Elsewhere I'll attend if cited.

Ashen-hearted, prone, and prayerful,
When of death I see the air full,
Lest I perish, too, be careful.

On that day of lamentation,
When, to enjoy the conflagration.
Men come forth, O, be not cruel.
Spare me, Lord - make them thy fuel.


See, Lord, fanatics all arrayed
For revolution!
To foil their villainous crusade
Unsheathe again the sacred blade
Of persecution.

What though through long disuse 't is grown
A trifle rusty?
'Gainst modern heresy, whose bone
Is rotten, and the flesh fly-blown,
It still is trusty.

Of sterner stuff thine ancient foes,
Sprang forth to meet thy biting blows;
Our zealots chiefly to the nose
Assume the offensive.

Then wield the blade their necks to hack,
Nor ever spare one.
Thy crowns of martyrdom unpack,
But see that every martyr lack
The head to wear one.


"What's in the paper?" Oh, it's dev'lish dull:
There's nothing happening at all - a lull
After the war-storm. Mr. Someone's wife
Killed by her lover with, I think, a knife.
A fire on Blank Street and some babies - one,
Two, three or four, I don't remember, done
To quite a delicate and lovely brown.
A husband shot by woman of the town -
The same old story. Shipwreck somewhere south.
The crew, all saved - or lost. Uncommon drouth
Makes hundreds homeless up the River Mud -
Though, come to think, I guess it was a flood.
'T is feared some bank will burst - or else it won't
They always burst, I fancy - or they don't;
Who cares a cent? - the banker pays his coin
And takes his chances: bullet in the groin -
But that's another item - suicide -
Fool lost his money (serve him right) and died.
Heigh-ho! there's noth - Jerusalem! what's this:
Tom Jones has failed! My God, what an abyss
Of ruin! - owes me seven hundred clear!
Was ever such a damned disastrous year!


[The Church possesses the unerring compass whose needle points directly
and persistently to the star of the eternal law of God. - _Religious

The Church's compass, if you please,
Has two or three (or more) degrees
Of variation;
And many a soul has gone to grief
On this or that or t'other reef
Through faith unreckoning or brief
Misguidance is of perils chief
To navigation.

The obsequious thing makes, too, you'll mark,
Obeisance through a little arc
Of declination;
For Satan, fearing witches, drew
From Death's pale horse, one day, a shoe,
And nailed it to his door to undo
Their machination.
Since then the needle dips to woo
His habitation.


Great poets fire the world with fagots big
That make a crackling racket,
But I'm content with but a whispering twig
To warm some single jacket.


"What are those, father?" "Statesmen, my child -
Lacrymose, unparliamentary, wild."

"What are they that way for, father?" "Last fall,
'Our candidate's better,' they said, 'than all!'"

"What did they say he was, father?" "A man
Built on a straight incorruptible plan -
Believing that none for an office would do
Unless he were honest and capable too."

"Poor gentlemen - _so_ disappointed!" "Yes, lad,
That is the feeling that's driving them mad;
They're weeping and wailing and gnashing because
They find that he's all that they said that he was."


"You know, my friends, with what a brave carouse
I made a second marriage in my house -
Divorced old barren Reason from my bed
And took the Daughter of the Vine to spouse."

So sang the Lord of Poets. In a gleam
Of light that made her like an angel seem,
The Daughter of the Vine said: "I myself
Am Reason, and the Other was a Dream."


Says England to Germany: "Africa's ours."
Says Germany: "Ours, I opine."
Says Africa: "Tell me, delectable Pow'rs,
What is it that ought to be mine?"


A man born blind received his sight
By a painful operation;
And these are things he saw in the light
Of an infant observation.

He saw a merchant, good and wise.
And greatly, too, respected,
Who looked, to those imperfect eyes,
Like a swindler undetected.

He saw a patriot address
A noisy public meeting.
And said: "Why, that's a calf. I guess.
That for the teat is bleating."

A doctor stood beside a bed
And shook his summit sadly.
"O see that foul assassin!" said
The man who saw so badly.

He saw a lawyer pleading for
A thief whom they'd been jailing,
And said: "That's an accomplice, or
My sight again is failing."

Upon the Bench a Justice sat,
With nothing to restrain him;
"'Tis strange," said the observer, "that
They ventured to unchain him."

With theologic works supplied,
He saw a solemn preacher;
"A burglar with his kit," he cried,
"To rob a fellow creature."

A bluff old farmer next he saw
Sell produce in a village,
And said: "What, what! is there no law
To punish men for pillage?"

A dame, tall, fair and stately, passed,
Who many charms united;
He thanked his stars his lot was cast
Where sepulchers were whited.

He saw a soldier stiff and stern,
"Full of strange oaths" and toddy;
But was unable to discern
A wound upon his body.

Ten square leagues of rolling ground
To one great man belonging,
Looked like one little grassy mound
With worms beneath it thronging.

A palace's well-carven stones,
Where Dives dwelt contented,
Seemed built throughout of human bones
With human blood cemented.

He watched the yellow shining thread
A silk-worm was a-spinning;
"That creature's coining gold." he said,
"To pay some girl for sinning."

His eyes were so untrained and dim
All politics, religions,
Arts, sciences, appeared to him
But modes of plucking pigeons.

And so he drew his final breath,
And thought he saw with sorrow
Some persons weeping for his death
Who'd be all smiles to-morrow.


I dreamed that I was dead. The years went by:
The world forgot that such a man as I
Had ever lived and written: other names
Were hailed with homage, in their turn to die.

Out of my grave a giant beech upgrew.
Its roots transpierced my body, through and through,
My substance fed its growth. From many lands
Men came in troops that giant tree to view.

'T was sacred to my memory and fame -
My monument. But Allen Forman came,
Filled with the fervor of a new untruth,

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