by: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

      NCE I "dipt into the future far as human eye could see,"
      And saw -- it was not Sandow, nor John Sullivan, but she--
      Emancipated Woman, who was weeping as she ran
      Here and there for the discovery of Expurgated Man.
      But the sun of Evolution ever rose and ever set,
      And that tardiest of mortals hadn't evoluted yet.
      Hence the tears that she cascaded, hence the sighs that tore apart
      All the tendinous connections of her indurated heart.
      Cried Emancipated Woman, as she wearied of the search:
      "In Advancing I have left myself distinctly in the lurch!
      Seeking still a worthy partner, from the land of brutes and dudes
      I have penetrated rashly into manless solitudes.
      Now without a mate of any kind where am I? -- that's to say,
      Where shall I be to-morrow? -- where exert my rightful sway
      And the purifying strength of my emancipated mind?
      Can solitude be lifted up, vacuity refined?
      Calling, calling from the shadows in the rear of my Advance--
      From the region of Unprogress in the dark domain of Chance--
      Long I heard the Unevolvable beseeching my return
      To share the degradation he's reluctant to unlearn.
      But I've held my way regardless, evoluting year by year
      Till I'm what you now behold me -- or would if you were here --
      A condensed Emancipation and Purifier proud,
      An Independent Entity appropriately loud!
      Independent? Yes, in spirit, but (O woful, woful state!)
      Doomed to premature extinction by privation of a mate --
      To extinction or reversion, for Unexpurgated Man
      Still awaits me in the backward if I sicken in the van.
      O the horrible dilemma! -- to be odiously linked
      With an Undeveloped Species, or become a Type Extinct!"
      As Emancipated Woman wailed her sorrow to the air,
      Stalking out of desolation came a being strange and rare--
      Plato's Man! -- a biped, featherless from mandible to rump,
      Its wings two quilless flippers and its tail a plumeless stump.
      First it scratched and then it clucked, as if in hospitable terms
      It invited her to banquet on imaginary worms.
      Then it strutted up before her with a lifting of the head,
      And in accents of affection and of sympathy it said:
      "My estate is some'at 'umble, but I'm qualified to draw
      Near the hymeneal altar and whack up my heart and claw
      To Emancipated Anything as walks upon the earth;
      And them things is at your service for whatever they are worth.
      I'm sure to be congenial, marm, nor e'er deserve a scowl--
      I'm Emancipated Rooster, I am Expurgated Fowl!"
      From the future and its wonders I withdrew my gaze, and then
      Wrote this wild, unfestive lay of Evolutionated Hen.

"An Offer of Marriage" 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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