Ambrose Bierce

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

Yorick - Poem by Ambrose Bierce

Hard by an excavated street one sat
In solitary session on the sand;
And ever and anon he spake and spat
And spake again-a yellow skull in hand,
To which that retrospective Pioneer
Addressed the few remarks that follow here:

'Who are you? Did you come 'der blains agross,'
Or 'Horn aroundt'? In days o' '49
Did them thar eye-holes see the Southern Cross
From the Antarctic Sea git up an' shine?
Or did you drive a bull team 'all the way
From Pike,' with Mr. Joseph Bowers?-say!

'Was you in Frisco when the water came
Up to Montgum'ry street? and do you mind
The time when Peters run the faro game
Jim Peters from old Mississip-behind
Wells Fargo's, where he subsequent was bust
By Sandy, as regards both bank and crust?

'I wonder was you here when Casey shot
James King o' William? And did you attend
The neck-tie dance ensuin'? _I_ did not,
But j'ined the rush to Go Creek with my friend
Ed'ard McGowan; for we was resolved
In sech diversions not to be involved.

'Maybe I knowed you; seems to me I've seed
Your face afore. I don't forget a face,
But names I disremember-I'm that breed
Of owls. I'm talking some'at into space
An' maybe my remarks is too derned free,
Seein' yer name is unbeknown to me.

'Ther' was a time, I reckon, when I knowed
Nigh onto every dern galoot in town.
That was as late as '50. Now she's growed
Surprisin'! Yes, me an' my pardner, Brown,
Was wide acquainted. If ther' was a cuss
We didn't know, the cause was-he knowed us.

'Maybe you had that claim adjoinin' mine
Up thar in Calaveras. Was it you
To which Long Mary took a mighty shine,
An' throwed squar' off on Jake the Kangaroo?
I guess if she could see ye now she'd take
Her chance o' happiness along o' Jake.

'You ain't so purty now as you was then:
Yer eyes is nothin' but two prospect holes,
An' women which are hitched to better men
Would hardly for sech glances damn their souls,
As Lengthie did. By G--! I _hope_ it's you,
For' _(kicks the skull)_ 'I'm Jake the Kangaroo.'


Comments about Yorick by Ambrose Bierce

  • (10/1/2012 3:51:00 AM)


    This is such an interesting, and engrossing piece, i loved trying to speak that thar speech...twas fun to rifle through the thoughts of one sat gazing at a skull trying to guess its identity and returning to kicking the skull, the ultimate in free thought in revenge for Jake the kangaroo.... im sure i miss much of the poets intentions in this piece but sometimes its just fun to enjoy a piece and not try too hard to grasp the full content...tyvm karen (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, October 1, 2012



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