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!
POEMS BY AMBROSE BIERCE
|"Convalescent" is reprinted from Shapes of Clay. Ambrose Bierce. San Francisco: W. E. Wood, 1903.