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On A Proposed Crematory

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

When a fair bridge is builded o'er the gulf
Between two cities, some ambitious fool,
Hot for distinction, pleads for earliest leave
To push his clumsy feet upon the span,
That men in after years may single him,
Saying: 'Behold the fool who first went o'er!'
So be it when, as now the promise is,
Next summer sees the edifice complete
Which some do name a crematorium,
Within the vantage of whose greater maw's
Quicker digestion we shall cheat the worm
And circumvent the handed mole who loves,
With tunnel, adit, drift and roomy stope,
To mine our mortal parts in all their dips
And spurs and angles. Let the fool stand forth
To link his name with this fair enterprise,
As first decarcassed by the flame. And if
With rival greedings for the fiery fame
They push in clamoring multitudes, or if
With unaccustomed modesty they all
Hold off, being something loth to qualify,
Let me select the fittest for the rite.
By heaven! I'll make so warrantable, wise
And excellent censure of their true deserts,
And such a searching canvass of their claims,
That none shall bait the ballot. I'll spread my choice
Upon the main and general of those
Who, moved of holy impulse, pulpit-born,
Protested 'twere a sacrilege to burn
God's gracious images, designed to rot,
And bellowed for the right of way for each
Distempered carrion through the water pipes.
With such a sturdy, boisterous exclaim
They did discharge themselves from their own throats
Against the splintered gates of audience
'Twere wholesomer to take them in at mouth
Than ear. These shall burn first: their ignible
And seasoned substances-trunks, legs and arms,
Blent indistinguishable in a mass,
Like winter-woven serpents in a pit
None vantaged of his fellow-fools in point
Of precedence, and all alive-shall serve
As fueling to fervor the retort
For after cineration of true men.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:36 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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