One Of The Redeemed - Poem by Ambrose Bierce
Saint Peter, standing at the Gate, beheld
A soul whose body Death had lately felled.
A pleasant soul as ever was, he seemed:
His step was joyous and his visage beamed.
'Good morning, Peter.' There was just a touch
Of foreign accent, but not overmuch.
The Saint bent gravely, like a stately tree,
And said: 'You have the advantage, sir, of me.'
'Renan of Paris,' said the immortal part
'A master of the literary art.
'I'm somewhat famous, too, I grieve to tell,
As controversialist and infidel.'
'That's of no consequence,' the Saint replied,
'Why, I myself my Master once denied.
'No one up here cares anything for that.
But is there nothing you were always at?
'It seems to me you were accused one day
Of _something_-what it was I can't just say.'
'Quite likely,' said the other; 'but I swear
My life was irreproachable and fair.'
Just then a soul appeared upon the wall,
Singing a hymn as loud as he could bawl.
About his head a golden halo gleamed,
As well befitted one of the redeemed.
A harp he bore and vigorously thumbed,
Strumming he sang, and, singing, ever strummed.
His countenance, suffused with holy pride,
Glowed like a pumpkin with a light inside.
'Ah! that's the chap,' said Peter, 'who declares:
'Renan's a rake and drunkard-smokes and swears.'
'Yes, that's the fellow-he's a preacher-came
From San Francisco. Mansfield was his name.'
'Do you believe him?' said Renan. 'Great Scott!
Believe? Believe the blackguard? Of course _not!
'Just walk right in and make yourself at home.
And if he pecks at you I'll cut his comb.
'He's only here because the Devil swore
He wouldn't have him, for the smile he wore.'
Resting his eyes one moment on that proof
Of saving grace, the Frenchman turned aloof,
And stepping down from cloud to cloud, said he:
'Thank you, monsieur,-I'll see if he'll have _me_.'
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