Ambrose Bierce

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

The Fountain Refilled - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Of Hans Pietro Shanahan
(Who was a most ingenious man)
The Muse of History records
That he'd get drunk as twenty lords.

He'd get so truly drunk that men
Stood by to marvel at him when
His slow advance along the street
Was but a vain cycloidal feat.

And when 'twas fated that he fall
With a wide geographical sprawl,
They signified assent by sounds
Heard (faintly) at its utmost bounds.

And yet this Mr. Shanahan
(Who was a most ingenious man)
Cast not on wine his thirsty eyes
When it was red or otherwise.

All malt, or spirituous, tope
He loathed as cats dissent from soap;
And cider, if it touched his lip,
Evoked a groan at every sip.

But still, as heretofore explained,
He not infrequently was grained.
(I'm not of those who call it 'corned.'
Coarse speech I've always duly scorned.)

Though truth to say, and that's but right,
Strong drink (it hath an adder's bite!)
Was what had put him in the mud,
The only kind he used was blood!

Alas, that an immortal soul
Addicted to the flowing bowl,
The emptied flagon should again
Replenish from a neighbor's vein.

But, Mr. Shanahan was so
Constructed, and his taste that low.
Nor more deplorable was he
In kind of thirst than in degree;

For sometimes fifty souls would pay
The debt of nature in a day
To free him from the shame and pain
Of dread Sobriety's misreign.

His native land, proud of its sense
Of his unique inabstinence,
Abated something of its pride
At thought of his unfilled inside.

And some the boldness had to say
'Twere well if he were called away
To slake his thirst forevermore
In oceans of celestial gore.

But Hans Pietro Shanahan
(Who was a most ingenious man)
Knew that his thirst was mortal; so
Remained unsainted here below

Unsainted and unsaintly, for
He neither went to glory nor
To abdicate his power deigned
Where, under Providence, he reigned,

But kept his Boss's power accurst
To serve his wild uncommon thirst.
Which now had grown so truly great
It was a drain upon the State.

Soon, soon there came a time, alas!
When he turned down an empty glass
All practicable means were vain
His special wassail to obtain.

In vain poor Decimation tried
To furnish forth the needful tide;
And Civil War as vainly shed
Her niggard offering of red.

Poor Shanahan! his thirst increased
Until he wished himself deceased,
Invoked the firearm and the knife,
But could not die to save his life!

He was so dry his own veins made
No answer to the seeking blade;
So parched that when he would have passed
Away he could not breathe his last.

'Twas then, when almost in despair,
(Unlaced his shoon, unkempt his hair)
He saw as in a dream a way
To wet afresh his mortal clay.

Yes, Hans Pietro Shanahan
(Who was a most ingenious man)
Saw freedom, and with joy and pride
'Thalassa! (or Thalatta!)' cried.

Straight to the Aldermen went he,
With many a 'pull' and many a fee,
And many a most corrupt 'combine'
(The Press for twenty cents a line

Held out and fought him-O, God, bless
Forevermore the holy Press!)
Till he had franchises complete
For trolley lines on every street!

The cars were builded and, they say,
Were run on rails laid every way
Rhomboidal roads, and circular,
And oval-everywhere a car

Square, dodecagonal (in great
Esteem the shape called Figure 8)
And many other kinds of shapes
As various as tails of apes.

No other group of men's abodes
E'er had such odd electric roads,
That winding in and winding out,
Began and ended all about.

No city had, unless in Mars,
That city's wealth of trolley cars.
They ran by day, they flew by night,
And O, the sorry, sorry sight!

And Hans Pietro Shanahan
(Who was a most ingenious man)
Incessantly, the Muse records,
Lay drunk as twenty thousand lords!


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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 28, 2012



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