The Setting Sachem

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



'Twas an Injin chieftain, in feathers all fine,
Who stood on the ocean's rim;
There were numberless leagues of excellent brine
But there wasn't enough for him.
So he knuckled a thumb in his painted eye,
And added a tear to the scant supply.

The surges were breaking with thund'rous voice,
The winds were a-shrieking shrill;
This warrior thought that a trifle of noise
Was needed to fill the bill.
So he lifted the top of his head off and scowled
Exalted his voice, did this chieftain, and howled!

The sun was aflame in a field of gold
That hung o'er the Western Sea;
Bright banners of light were broadly unrolled,
As banners of light should be.
But no one was 'speaking a piece' to that sun,
And therefore this Medicine Man begun:

'O much heap of bright! O big ball of warm!
I've tracked you from sea to sea!
For the Paleface has been at some pains to inform
Me, _you_ are the emblem of _me_.
He says to me, cheerfully: 'Westward Ho!'
And westward I've hoed a most difficult row.

'Since you are the emblem of me, I presume
That I am the emblem of you,
And thus, as we're equals, 't is safe to assume,
That one great law governs us two.
So now if I set in the ocean with thee,
With thee I shall rise again out of the sea.'

His eloquence first, and his logic the last!
Such orators die!-and he died:
The trump was against him-his luck bad-he 'passed'
And so he 'passed out'-with the tide.
This Injin is rid of the world with a whim
The world it is rid of his speeches and him.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

1:28 min read
102

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABABCC XDXDEE XFEFGG HFHBII JKJKFF LMLMBB
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 1,447
Words 288
Stanzas 6
Stanza Lengths 6, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6

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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