Ambrose Bierce

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

A Poet's Father - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

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, intent upon the page,
Thirsting for knowledge with a noble rage,
Drink dry the whole Pierian spring and ask
To slake their fervor at his private flask.
Arrested by the terror of his frown,
The vaulting spit-ball drops untimely down;
The fly impaled on the tormenting pin
Stills in his awful glance its dizzy din;
Beneath that stern regard the chewing-gum
Which writhed and squeaked between the teeth is dumb;
Obedient to his will the dunce-cap flies
To perch upon the brows of the unwise;
The supple switch forsakes the parent wood
To settle where 'twill do the greatest good,
Puissant still, as when of old it strove
With Solomon for spitting on the stove
Learned Professor, variously great,
Guide, guardian, instructor of the State
Quick to discern and zealous to correct
The faults which mar the public intellect
From where of Siskiyou the northern bound
Is frozen eternal to the sunless ground
To where in San Diego's torrid clime
The swarthy Greaser swelters in his grime
Beneath your stupid nose can you not see
The dunce whom once you dandled on your knee?
O mighty master of a thousand schools,
Stop teaching wisdom, or stop breeding fools.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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