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George A. Knight

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



Attorney Knight, it happens so sometimes
That lawyers, justifying cut-throats' crimes
For hire-calumniating, too, for gold,
The dead, dumb victims cruelly unsouled
Speak, through the press, to a tribunal far
More honorable than their Honors are,
A court that sits not with assenting smile
While living rogues dead gentleman revile,
A court where scoundrel ethics of your trade
Confuse no judgment and no cheating aid,
The Court of Honest Souls, where you in vain
May plead your right to falsify for gain,
Sternly reminded if a man engage
To serve assassins for the liar's wage,
His mouth with vilifying falsehoods crammed,
He's twice detestable and doubly damned!

Attorney Knight, defending Powell, you,
To earn your fee, so energetic grew
(So like a hound, the pride of all the pack,
Clapping your nose upon the dead man's track
To run his faults to earth-at least proclaim
At vacant holes the overtaken game)
That men who marked you nourishing the tongue,
And saw your arms so vigorously swung,
All marveled how so light a breeze could stir
So great a windmill to so great a whirr!
Little they knew, or surely they had grinned,
The mill was laboring to raise the wind.

Ralph Smith a 'shoulder-striker'! God, O hear
This hardy man's description of thy dear
Dead child, the gentlest soul, save only One,
E'er born in any land beneath the sun.
All silent benefactions still he wrought:
High deed and gracious speech and noble thought,
Kept all thy law, and, seeking still the right,
Upon his blameless breast received the light.

'Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints,' he cried
Whose wrath was deep as his comparison wide
Milton, thy servant. Nay, thy will be done:
To smite or spare-to me it all is one.
Can vengeance bring my sorrow to an end,
Or justice give me back my buried friend?
But if some Milton vainly now implore,
And Powell prosper as he did before,
Yet 'twere too much that, making no ado,
Thy saints be slaughtered and be slandered too.
So, Lord, make Knight his weapon keep in sheath,
Or do Thou wrest it from between his teeth!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:49 min read
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Ambrose Bierce

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

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