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A Demand

Ambrose Bierce 1842 (Meigs County) – 1914 (Chihuahua)

You promised to paint me a picture,
Dear Mat,
And I was to pay you in rhyme.
Although I am loth to inflict your
Most easy of consciences, I'm
Of opinion that fibbing is awful,
And breaking a contract unlawful,
Indictable, too, as a crime,
A slight and all that.

If, Lady Unbountiful, any
Of that
By mortals called pity has part
In your obdurate soul-if a penny
You care for the health of my heart,
By performing your undertaking
You'll succor that organ from breaking
And spare it for some new smart,
As puss does a rat.

Do you think it is very becoming,
Dear Mat,
To deny me my rights evermore
And-bless you! if I begin summing
Your sins they will make a long score!
You never were generous, madam,
If you had been Eve and I Adam
You'd have given me naught but the core,
And little of that.

Had I been content with a Titian,
A cat
By Landseer, a meadow by Claude,
No doubt I'd have had your permission
To take it-by purchase abroad.
But why should I sail o'er the ocean
For Landseers and Claudes? I've a notion
All's bad that the critics belaud.
I wanted a Mat.

Presumption's a sin, and I suffer
For that:
But still you _did_ say that sometime,
If I'd pay you enough (here's enougher
That's more than enough) of rhym
You'd paint me a picture. I pay you
Hereby in advance; and I pray you
Condone, while you can, your crime,
And send me a Mat.

But if you don't do it I warn you,
Dear Mat,
I'll raise such a clamor and cry
On Parnassus the Muses will scorn you
As mocker of poets and fly
With bitter complaints to Apollo:
'Her spirit is proud, her heart hollow,
Her beauty'-they'll hardly deny,
On second thought, _that_!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:38 min read

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce was an American editorialist, journalist, short story writer, fabulist, and satirist. more…

All Ambrose Bierce poems | Ambrose Bierce Books

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