Ambrose Bierce

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

An Unmerry Christmas - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Christmas, you tell me, comes but once a year.
One place it never comes, and that is here.
Here, in these pages no good wishes spring,
No well-worn greetings tediously ring
For Christmas greetings are like pots of ore:
The hollower they are they ring the more.
Here shall no holly cast a spiny shade,
Nor mistletoe my solitude invade,
No trinket-laden vegetable come,
No jorum steam with Sheolate of rum.
No shrilling children shall their voices rear.
Hurrah for Christmas without Christmas cheer!

No presents, if you please-I know too well
What Herbert Spencer, if he didn't tell
(I know not if he did) yet might have told
Of present-giving in the days of old,
When Early Man with gifts propitiated
The chiefs whom most he doubted, feared and hated,
Or tendered them in hope to reap some rude
Advantage from the taker's gratitude.
Since thus the Gift its origin derives
(How much of its first character survives
You know as well as I) my stocking's tied,
My pocket buttoned-with my soul inside.
I save my money and I save my pride.

Dinner? Yes; thank you-just a human body
Done to a nutty brown, and a tear toddy
To give me appetite; and as for drink,
About a half a jug of blood, I think,
Will do; for still I love the red, red wine,
Coagulating well, with wrinkles fine
Fretting the satin surface of its flood.
O tope of kings-divine Falernian-blood!

Duse take the shouting fowls upon the limb,
The kneeling cattle and the rising hymn!
Has not a pagan rights to be regarded-
His heart assaulted and his ear bombarded
With sentiments and sounds that good old Pan
Even in his demonium would ban?

No, friends-no Christmas here, for I have sworn
To keep my heart hard and my knees unworn.
Enough you have of jester, player, priest:
I as the skeleton attend your feast,
In the mad revelry to make a lull
With shaken finger and with bobbing skull.
However you my services may flout,
Philosophy disdain and reason doubt,
I mean to hold in customary state,
My dismal revelry and celebrate
My yearly rite until the crack o' doom,
Ignore the cheerful season's warmth and bloom
And cultivate an oasis of gloom.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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