Ambrose Bierce

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

To The Fool-Killer - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Ah, welcome, welcome! Sit you down, old friend;
Your pipe I'll serve, your bottle I'll attend.
'Tis many a year since you and I have known
Society more pleasant than our own
In our brief respites from excessive work
I pointing out the hearts for you to dirk.
What have you done since lately at this board
We canvassed the deserts of all the horde
And chose what names would please the people best,
Engraved on coffin-plates-what bounding breast
Would give more satisfaction if at rest?
But never mind-the record cannot fail:
The loftiest monuments will tell the tale.

I trust ere next we meet you'll slay the chap
Who calls old Tyler 'Judge' and Merry 'Cap'
Calls John P. Irish 'Colonel' and John P.,
Whose surname Jack-son speaks his pedigree,
By the same title-men of equal rank
Though one is belly all, and one all shank,
Showing their several service in the fray:
One fought for food and one to get away.
I hope, I say, you'll kill the 'title' man
Who saddles one on every back he can,
Then rides it from Beersheba to Dan!
Another fool, I trust, you will perform
Your office on while my resentment's warm:
He shakes my hand a dozen times a day
If, luckless, I so often cross his way,
Though I've three senses besides that of touch,
To make me conscious of a fool too much.
Seek him, friend Killer, and your purpose make
Apparent as his guilty hand you take,
And set him trembling with a solemn: 'Shake!'

But chief of all the addle-witted crew
Conceded by the Hangman's League to you,
The fool (his dam's acquainted with a knave)
Whose fluent pen, of his no-brain the slave,
Strews notes of introduction o'er the land
And calls it hospitality-his hand
May palsy seize ere he again consign
To me his friend, as I to Hades mine!
Pity the wretch, his faults howe'er you see,
Whom A accredits to his victim, B.
Like shuttlecock which battledores attack
(One speeds it forward, one would drive it back)
The trustful simpleton is twice unblest-
A rare good riddance, an unwelcome guest.
The glad consignor rubs his hands to think
How duty is commuted into ink;
The consignee (his hands he cannot rub
He has the man upon them) mutters: 'Cub!'
And straightway plans to lose him at the Club.
You know, good Killer, where this dunce abides
The secret jungle where he writes and hides
Though no exploring foot has e'er upstirred
His human elephant's exhaustless herd.
Go, bring his blood! We'll drink it-letting fall
A due libation to the gods of Gall.
On second thought, the gods may have it all.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 29, 2012



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