by: Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

      hat! "Out of danger?" Can the slighted Dame
      Or canting Pharisee no more defame?
      Will Treachery caress my hand no more,
      Nor Hatred He alurk about my door?—
      Ingratitude, with benefits dismissed,
      Not close the loaded palm to make a fist?
      Will Envy henceforth not retaliate
      For virtues it were vain to emulate?
      Will Ignorance my knowledge fail to scout,
      Not understanding what 'tis all about,
      Yet feeling in its light so mean and small
      That all his little soul is turned to gall?

      What! "Out of danger?" Jealousy disarmed?
      Greed from exaction magically charmed?
      Ambition stayed from trampling whom it meets,
      Like horses fugitive in crowded streets?
      The Bigot, with his candle, book and bell,
      Tongue-tied, unlunged and paralyzed as well?
      The Critic righteously to justice haled,
      His own ear to the post securely nailed—
      What most he dreads unable to inflict,
      And powerless to hawk the faults he's picked?
      The liar choked upon his choicest lie,
      And impotent alike to villify
      Or flatter for the gold of thrifty men
      Who hate his person but employ his pen—
      Who love and loathe, respectively, the dirt
      Belonging to his character and shirt?

      What! "Out of danger?"—Nature's minions all,
      Like hounds returning to the huntsman's call,
      Obedient to the unwelcome note
      That stays them from the quarry's bursting throat?—
      Famine and Pestilence and Earthquake dire,
      Torrent and Tempest, Lightning, Frost and Fire,
      The soulless Tiger and the mindless Snake,
      The noxious Insect from the stagnant lake
      (Automaton malevolences wrought
      Out of the substance of Creative Thought)—
      These from their immemorial prey restrained,
      Their fury baffled and their power chained?

      I'm safe? Is that what the physician said?
      What! "Out of danger?" Then, by Heaven, I'm dead!

"Convalescent" is reprinted from Shapes of Clay. Ambrose Bierce. San Francisco: W. E. Wood, 1903.




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