Ambrose Bierce

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

The Weather Wight - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

The way was long, the hill was steep,
My footing scarcely I could keep.

The night enshrouded me in gloom,
I heard the ocean's distant boom

The trampling of the surges vast
Was borne upon the rising blast.

'God help the mariner,' I cried,
'Whose ship to-morrow braves the tide!'

Then from the impenetrable dark
A solemn voice made this remark:

'For this locality-warm, bright;
Barometer unchanged; breeze light.'

'Unseen consoler-man,' I cried,
'Whoe'er you are, where'er abide,

'Thanks-but my care is somewhat less
For Jack's, than for my own, distress.

'Could I but find a friendly roof,
Small odds what weather were aloof.

'For he whose comfort is secure
Another's woes can well endure.'

'The latch-string's out,' the voice replied,
'And so's the door-jes' step inside.'

Then through the darkness I discerned
A hovel, into which I turned.

Groping about beneath its thatch,
I struck my head and then a match.

A candle by that gleam betrayed
Soon lent paraffinaceous aid.

A pallid, bald and thin old man
I saw, who this complaint began:

'Through summer suns and winter snows
I sets observin' of my toes.

'I rambles with increasin' pain
The path of duty, but in vain.

'Rewards and honors pass me by
No Congress hears this raven cry!'

Filled with astonishment, I spoke:
'Thou ancient raven, why this croak?

'With observation of your toes
What Congress has to do, Heaven knows!

'And swallow me if e'er I knew
That one could sit and ramble too!'

To answer me that ancient swain
Took up his parable again:

'Through winter snows and summer suns
A Weather Bureau here I runs.

'I calls the turn, and can declare
Jes' when she'll storm and when she'll fair.

'Three times a day I sings out clear
The probs to all which wants to hear.

'Some weather stations run with light
Frivolity is seldom right.

'A scientist from times remote,
In Scienceville my birth is wrote.

'And when I h'ist the 'rainy' sign
Jes' take your clo'es in off the line.'

'Not mine, O marvelous old man,
The methods of your art to scan,

'Yet here no instruments there be-
Nor 'ometer nor 'scope I see.

'Did you (if questions you permit)
At the asylum leave your kit?'

That strange old man with motion rude
Grew to surprising altitude.

'Tools (and sarcazzems too) I scorns-
I tells the weather by my corns.

'No doors and windows here you see-
The wind and m'isture enters free.

'No fires nor lights, no wool nor fur
Here falsifies the tempercher.

'My corns unleathered I expose
To feel the rain's foretellin' throes.

'No stockin' from their ears keeps out
The comin' tempest's warnin' shout.

'Sich delicacy some has got
They know next summer's to be hot.

'This here one says (for that he's best):
'Storm center passin' to the west.'

'This feller's vitals is transfixed
With frost for Janawary sixt'.

'One chap jes' now is occy'pied
In fig'rin on next Fridy's tide.

'I've shaved this cuss so thin and true
He'll spot a fog in South Peru.

'Sech are my tools, which ne'er a swell
Observatory can excel.

'By long a-studyin' their throbs
I catches onto all the probs.'

Much more, no doubt, he would have said,
But suddenly he turned and fled;

For in mine eye's indignant green
Lay storms that he had not foreseen,

Till all at once, with silent squeals,
His toes 'caught on' and told his heels.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 1, 2012



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