by: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

      DRIFTED (or I seemed to) in a boat
      Upon the surface of a shoreless sea
      Whereon no ship nor anything did float,
      Save only the frail bark supporting me;
      And that -- it was so shadowy -- seemed to be
      Almost from out the subtle azure wrought
      Of the great ocean underneath its keel;
      And all that blue profound appeared as naught
      But thicker sky, translucent to reveal,
      Miles down, whatever through its spaces glided,
      Or at the bottom traveled or abided.
      Great cities there I saw; of rich and poor
      The palace and the hovel; mountains, vales,
      Forest and field; the desert and the moor;
      Tombs of the good and wise who'd lived in jails;
      Seas of a denser fluid, white with sails
      Pushed at by currents moving here and there
      And sensible to sight above the flat
      Of that opaquer deep. Ah, strange and fair
      The nether world that I was gazing at
      With beating heart from that exalted level,
      And, lest I founder, trembling like the devil!
      The cities all were populous: men swarmed
      In public places -- chattered, laughed and wept;
      And savages their shining bodies warmed
      At fires in primal woods. The wild beast leapt
      Upon its prey and slew it as it slept.
      Armies went forth to battle on the plain
      So far, far down in that unfathomed deep
      The living seemed as silent as the slain,
      Nor even the windows could be heard to weep.
      One might have thought their shaking was but laughter;
      And, truly, most were married shortly after.
      Above the wreckage of that silent fray
      Strange fishes swam in circles, round and round--
      Black, double-finned; and once a little way
      A bubble rose and burst without a sound
      And a man tumbled out upon the ground.
      Lord! 'twas an eerie thing to drift apace
      On that pellucid sea, beneath black skies
      And o'er the heads of an undrowning race!
      And when I woke I said -- to her surprise
      Who came with chocolate, for me to drink it:
      "The atmosphere is deeper than you think it."

"A Morning Fancy" is reprinted from The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce Vol. IV: Shapes of Clay. Ambrose Bierce. New York: Neale Publishing Company, 1910.




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