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Poems
Censor Literarum
(24 June 1842 - 26 December 1913 / Horse Cave Creek, Ohio)

Censor Literarum

Poem By Ambrose Bierce

So, Parson Stebbins, you've released your chin
To say that here, and here, we press-folk ail.
'Tis a great thing an editor to skin
And hang his faulty pelt upon a nail
(If over-eared, it has, at least, no tail)
And, for an admonition against sin,
Point out its maculations with a rod,
And act, in short, the gentleman of God.

'Twere needless cruelty to spoil your sport
By comment, critical or merely rude;
But you, too, have, according to report,
Despite your posing as a holy dude,
Imperfect spiritual pulchritude
For so severe a judge. May't please the court,
We shall appeal and take our case at once
Before that higher court, a taller dunce.

Sir, what were _you_ without the press? What spreads
The fame of your existence, once a week,
From the Pacific Mail dock to the Heads,
Warning the people you're about to wreak
Upon the human ear your Sunday freak?
Whereat the most betake them to their bed
Though some prefer to slumber in the pews
And nod assent to your hypnotic views.

Unhappy man! can you not still your tongue
When (like a luckless brat afflict with worms,
By cruel fleas intolerably stung,
Or with a pang in its small lap) it squirms?
Still must it vulgarize your feats of lung?
No preaching better were, the sun beneath,
If you had nothing there behind your teeth.

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