Ambrose Bierce

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

The Town Of Dae - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Swains and maidens, young and old,
You to me this tale have told.

Where the squalid town of Dae
Irks the comfortable sea,
Spreading webs to gather fish,
As for wealth we set a wish,
Dwelt a king by right divine,
Sprung from Adam's royal line,
Town of Dae by the sea,
Divers kinds of kings there be.

Name nor fame had Picklepip:
Ne'er a soldier nor a ship
Bore his banners in the sun;
Naught knew he of kingly sport,
And he held his royal court
Under an inverted tun.
Love and roses, ages through,
Bloom where cot and trellis stand;
Never yet these blossoms grew
Never yet was room for two
In a cask upon the strand.

So it happened, as it ought,
That his simple schemes he wrought
Through the lagging summer's day
In a solitary way.
So it happened, as was best,
That he took his nightly rest
With no dreadful incubus
This way eyed and that way tressed,
Featured thus, and thus, and thus,
Lying lead-like on a breast
By cares of State enough oppressed.
Yet in dreams his fancies rude
Claimed a lordly latitude.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Dreamers mate above their state
And waken back to their degree.

Once to cask himself away
He prepared at close of day.
As he tugged with swelling throat
At a most unkingly coat
Not to get it off, but on,
For the serving sun was gone
Passed a silk-appareled sprite
Toward her castle on the height,
Seized and set the garment right.
Turned the startled Picklepip
Splendid crimson cheek and lip!
Turned again to sneak away,

But she bade the villain stay,
Bade him thank her, which he did
With a speech that slipped and slid,
Sprawled and stumbled in its gait
As a dancer tries to skate.
Town of Dae by the sea,
In the face of silk and lace
Rags too bold should never be.

Lady Minnow cocked her head:
'Mister Picklepip,' she said,
'Do you ever think to wed?'
Town of Dae by the sea,
No fair lady ever made a
Wicked speech like that to me!

Wretched little Picklepip
Said he hadn't any ship,
Any flocks at his command,
Nor to feed them any land;
Said he never in his life
Owned a mine to keep a wife.
But the guilty stammer so
That his meaning wouldn't flow;
So he thought his aim to reach
By some figurative speech:
Said his Fate had been unkind
Had pursued him from behind
(How the mischief could it else?)

Came upon him unaware,
Caught him by the collar-there
Gushed the little lady's glee
Like a gush of golden bells:
'Picklepip, why, that is _me_!'
Town of Dae by the sea,
Grammar's for great scholars-she
Loved the summer and the lea.

Stupid little Picklepip
Allowed the subtle hint to slip
Maundered on about the ship
That he did not chance to own;
Told this grievance o'er and o'er,
Knowing that she knew before;
Told her how he dwelt alone.
Lady Minnow, for reply,
Cut him off with 'So do I!'
But she reddened at the fib;
Servitors had she, _ad lib.
Town of Dae by the sea,
In her youth who speaks no truth
Ne'er shall young and honest be.

Witless little Picklepip
Manned again his mental ship
And veered her with a sudden shift.
Painted to the lady's thought
How he wrestled and he wrought

Stoutly with the swimming drift
By the kindly river brought
From the mountain to the sea,
Fuel for the town of Dae.
Tedious tale for lady's ear:
From her castle on the height,
She had watched her water-knight
Through the seasons of a year,
Challenge more than met his view
And conquer better than he knew.
Now she shook her pretty pate
And stamped her foot-'t was growing late:
'Mister Picklepip, when I
Drifting seaward pass you by;
When the waves my forehead kiss
And my tresses float above-
Dead and drowned for lack of love-
You'll be sorry, sir, for this!'
And the silly creature cried
Feared, perchance, the rising tide.
Town of Dae by the sea,
Madam Adam, when she had 'em,
May have been as bad as she.

_Fiat lux!_ Love's lumination
Fell in floods of revelation!
Blinded brain by world aglare,
Sense of pulses in the air,

Sense of swooning and the beating
Of a voice somewhere repeating
Something indistinctly heard!
And the soul of Picklepip
Sprang upon his trembling lip,
But he spake no further word
Of the wealth he did not own;
In that moment had outgrown
Ship and mine and flock and land
Even his cask upon the strand.
Dropped a stricken star to earth,
Type of wealth and worldly worth.
Clomb the moon into the sky,
Type of love's immensity!
Shaking silver seemed the sea,
Throne of God the town of Dae!
Town of Dae by the sea,
From above there cometh love,
Blessing all good souls that be.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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