Ambrose Bierce

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

Substance Versus Shadow - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

So, gentle critics, you would have me tilt,
Not at the guilty, only just at Guilt!
Spare the offender and condemn Offense,
And make life miserable to Pretense!
'Whip Vice and Folly-that is satire's use
But be not personal, for _that's_ abuse;
Nor e'er forget what, 'like a razor keen,
Wounds with a touch that's neither felt nor seen.''
Well, friends, I venture, destitute of awe,
To think that razor but an old, old saw,
A trifle rusty; and a wound, I'm sure,
That's felt not, seen not, one can well endure.
Go to! go to!-you're as unfitted quite
To give advice to writers as to write.
I find in Folly and in Vice a lack
Of head to hit, and for the lash no back;
Whilst Pixley has a pow that's easy struck,
And though good Deacon Fitch (a Fitch for luck!)
Has none, yet, lest he go entirely free,
God gave to him a corn, a heel to me.
He, also, sets his face (so like a flint
The wonder grows that Pickering doesn't skin't)
With cold austerity, against these wars
On scamps-'tis Scampery that _he_ abhors!
Behold advance in dignity and state
Grave, smug, serene, indubitably great
Stanford, philanthropist! One hand bestows
In alms what t'other one as justice owes.
Rascality attends him like a shade,
But closes, woundless, o'er my baffled blade,
Its limbs unsevered, spirit undismayed.
Faith! I'm for something can be made to feel,
If, like Pelides, only in the heel.
The fellow's self invites assault; his crimes
Will each bear killing twenty thousand times!
Anon Creed Haymond-but the list is long
Of names to point the moral of my song.
Rogues, fools, impostors, sycophants, they rise,
They foul the earth and horrify the skies
With Mr. Huntington (sole honest man
In all the reek of that rapscallion clan)
Denouncing Theft as hard as e'er he can!


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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