Ambrose Bierce

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

The Saint And The Monk - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Saint Peter at the gate of Heaven displayed
The tools and terrors of his awful trade;
The key, the frown as pitiless as night,
That slays intending trespassers at sight,
And, at his side in easy reach, the curled
Interrogation points all ready to be hurled.

Straight up the shining cloudway (it so chanced
No others were about) a soul advanced
A fat, orbicular and jolly soul
With laughter-lines upon each rosy jowl-
A monk so prepossessing that the saint
Admired him, breathless, until weak and faint,
Forgot his frown and all his questions too,
Forgoing even the customary 'Who?'
Threw wide the gate and, with a friendly grin,
Said, ''Tis a very humble home, but pray walk in.'

The soul smiled pleasantly. 'Excuse me, please
Who's in there?' By insensible degrees
The impudence dispelled the saint's esteem,
As growing snores annihilate a dream.
The frown began to blacken on his brow,
His hand to reach for 'Whence?' and 'Why?' and 'How?'
'O, no offense, I hope,' the soul explained;
'I'm rather-well, particular. I've strained
A point in coming here at all; 'tis said
That Susan Anthony (I hear she's dead
At last) and all her followers are here.
As company, they'd be-confess it-rather queer.'

The saint replied, his rising anger past:
'What can I do?-the law is hard-and-fast,
Albeit unwritten and on earth unknown-
An oral order issued from the Throne.
By but one sin has Woman e'er incurred
God's wrath. To accuse Them Loud of that would be absurd.'

That friar sighed, but, calling up a smile,
Said, slowly turning on his heel the while:
'Farewell, my friend. Put up the chain and bar
I'm going, so please you, where the pretty women are.'


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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