For A Certain Critic

Poem By Ambrose Bierce

Let lowly themes engage my humble pen
Stupidities of critics, not of men.
Be it mine once more the maunderings to trace
Of the expounders' self-directed race
Their wire-drawn fancies, finically fine,
Of diligent vacuity the sign.
Let them in jargon of their trade rehearse
The moral meaning of the random verse
That runs spontaneous from the poet's pen
To be half-blotted by ambitious men
Who hope with his their meaner names to link
By writing o'er it in another ink
The thoughts unreal which they think they think,
Until the mental eye in vain inspects
The hateful palimpsest to find the text.

The lark ascending heavenward, loud and long
Sings to the dawning day his wanton song.
The moaning dove, attentive to the sound,
Its hidden meaning hastens to expound:
Explains its principles, design-in brief,
Pronounces it a parable of grief!

The bee, just pausing ere he daubs his thigh
With pollen from a hollyhock near by,
Declares he never heard in terms so just
The labor problem thoughtfully discussed!
The browsing ass looks up and clears his whistle
To say: 'A monologue upon the thistle!'
Meanwhile the lark, descending, folds his wing
And innocently asks: 'What!-did I sing?'

O literary parasites! who thrive
Upon the fame of better men, derive
Your sustenance by suction, like a leech,
And, for you preach of them, think masters preach,
Who find it half is profit, half delight,
To write about what you could never write,
Consider, pray, how sharp had been the throes
Of famine and discomfiture in those
You write of if they had been critics, too,
And doomed to write of nothing but of you!

Lo! where the gaping crowd throngs yonder tent,
To see the lion resolutely bent!
The prosing showman who the beast displays
Grows rich and richer daily in its praise.
But how if, to attract the curious yeoman,
The lion owned the show and showed the showman?

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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.