A MORNING FANCY
by: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)
(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."
POEMS BY AMBROSE BIERCE
"A Morning Fancy" is reprinted
from The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce Vol. IV: Shapes
of Clay. Ambrose Bierce. New York: Neale Publishing Company,