Fame [one Thousand Years I Slept Beneath The Sod]

Poem By Ambrose Bierce

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. Clamors loud
I heard, and curses deep enough to swim in;
And, pointing at me, one said: 'Let's put _him_ in.'
Then each turned on me with an evil look,
As in my ragged shroud I stood and shook.

'Nay, good Posterity,' I cried, 'forbear!
If that's a jail I fain would be remaining
Outside, for truly I should little care
To catch my death of cold. I'm just regaining
The life lost long ago by my disdaining
To take precautions against draughts like those
That, haply, penetrate that cracked and splitting
Old structure.' Then an aged wight arose
From a chair of state in which he had been sitting,
And with preliminary coughing, spitting
And wheezing, said: ''T is not a jail, we're sure,
Whate'er it may have been when it was newer.

''T was found two centuries ago, o'ergrown
With brush and ivy, all undoored, ungated;
And in restoring it we found a stone
Set here and there in the dilapidated
And crumbling frieze, inscribed, in antiquated
Big characters, with certain uncouth names,
Which we conclude were borne of old by awful
Rapscallions guilty of all sinful games
Vagrants engaged in purposes unlawful,
And orators less sensible than jawful.
So each ten years we add to the long row
A name, the most unworthy that we know.'

'But why,' I asked, 'put _me_ in?' He replied:
'You look it'-and the judgment pained me greatly;
Right gladly would I then and there have died,
But that I'd risen from the grave so lately.
But on examining that solemn, stately
Old ruin I remarked: 'My friend, you err
The truth of this is just what I expected.
This building in its time made quite a stir.
I lived (was famous, too) when 't was erected.
The names here first inscribed were much respected.
This is the Hall of Fame, or I'm a stork,
And this goat pasture once was called New York.'

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Other poems of BIERCE

Alone

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.

The Day Of Wrath / Dies Iræ

Day of Satan's painful duty! Dies iræ! dies illa!
Earth shall vanish, hot and sooty; Solvet sæclum in favilla

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.

Christian

I dreamed I stood upon a hill, and, lo!
The godly multitudes walked to and fro
Beneath, in Sabbath garments fitly clad,

At The Close Of The Canvass

'Twas a Venerable Person, whom I met one Sunday morning,
All appareled as a prophet of a melancholy sect;
And in a Jeremiad of objurgatory warning

Decalogue

Thou shalt no God but me adore:
'Twere too expensive to have more.