'Black Bart, Po8' - Poem by Ambrose Bierce
Welcome, good friend; as you have served your term,
And found the joy of crime to be a fiction,
I hope you'll hold your present faith, stand firm
And not again be open to conviction.
Your sins, though scarlet once, are now as wool:
You've made atonement for all past offenses,
And conjugated-'twas an awful pull!-
The verb 'to pay' in all its moods and tenses.
You were a dreadful criminal-by Heaven,
I think there never was a man so sinful!
We've all a pinch or two of Satan's leaven,
But you appeared to have an even skinful.
Earth shuddered with aversion at your name;
Rivers fled backward, gravitation scorning;
The sea and sky, from thinking on your shame,
Grew lobster-red at eve and in the morning.
But still red-handed at your horrid trade
You wrought, to reason deaf, and to compassion.
But now with gods and men your peace is made
I beg you to be good and in the fashion.
What's that?-you 'ne'er again will rob a stage'?
What! did you do so? Faith, I didn't know it.
Was _that_ what threw poor Themis in a rage?
I thought you were convicted as a poet!
I own it was a comfort to my soul,
And soothed it better than the deepest curses,
To think they'd got one poet in a hole
Where, though he wrote, he could not print, his verses.
I thought that Welcker, Plunkett, Brooks, and all
The ghastly crew who always are begriming
With villain couplets every page and wall,
Might be arrested and 'run in' for rhyming.
And then Parnassus would be left to me,
And Pegasus should bear me up it gaily,
Nor down a steep place run into the sea,
As now he must be tempted to do daily.
Well, grab the lyre-strings, hearties, and begin:
Bawl your harsh souls all out upon the gravel.
I must endure you, for you'll never sin
By robbing coaches, until dead men travel.
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