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Ye Idyll Of Ye Hippopopotamus

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

With a Methodist hymn in his musical throat,
The Sun was emitting his ultimate note;
His quivering larynx enwrinkled the sea
Like an Ichthyosaurian blowing his tea;
When sweetly and pensively rattled and rang
This plaint which an Hippopopotamus sang:

'O, Camomile, Calabash, Cartilage-pie,
Spread for my spirit a peppermint fry;
Crown me with doughnuts, and drape me with cheese,
Settle my soul with a codliver sneeze.
Lo, how I stand on my head and repine-
Lollipop Lumpkin can never be mine!'

Down sank the Sun with a kick and a plunge,
Up from the wave rose the head of a Sponge;
Ropes in his ringlets, eggs in his eyes,
Tip-tilted nose in a way to surprise.
These the conundrums he flung to the breeze,
The answers that Echo returned to him these:

  'Cobblestone, Cobblestone, why do you sigh-
  Why do you turn on the tears?'
  'My mother is crazy on strawberry jam,
  And my father has petrified ears.'

  'Liverwort, Liverwort, why do you droop-
  Why do you snuffle and scowl?'

  'My brother has cockle-burs into his eyes,
  And my sister has married an owl.'

  'Simia, Simia, why do you laugh-
  Why do you cackle and quake?'

  'My son has a pollywog stuck in his throat,
  And my daughter has bitten a snake.'

Slow sank the head of the Sponge out of sight,
Soaken with sea-water-then it was night.
The Moon had now risen for dinner to dress,
When sweetly the Pachyderm sang from his nest;
He sang through a pestle of silvery shape,
Encrusted with custard-empurpled with crape;
And this was the burden he bore on his lips,
And blew to the listening Sturgeon that sips
From the fountain of opium under the lobes
Of the mountain whose summit in buffalo robes
The winter envelops, as Venus adorns
An elephant's trunk with a chaplet of thorns:

  'Chasing mastodons through marshes upon stilts of light ratan,
  Hunting spiders with a shotgun and mosquitoes with an axe,
  Plucking peanuts ready roasted from the branches of the oak,
  Waking echoes in the forest with our hymns of blessed bosh,
  We roamed-my love and I.
  By the margin of the fountain spouting thick with clabbered milk,
  Under spreading boughs of bass-wood all alive with cooing toads,
  Loafing listlessly on bowlders of octagonal design,
  Standing gracefully inverted with our toes together knit,

We loved-my love and I.'
Hippopopotamus comforts his heart
Biting half-moons out of strawberry tart.
Epitaph on George Francis Train.
(Inscribed on a Pork-barrel.)
Beneath this casket rots unknown
A Thing that merits not a stone,
Save that by passing urchin cast;
Whose fame and virtues we express
By transient urn of emptiness,
With apt inscription (to its past
Relating-and to his): 'Prime Mess.'
No honour had this infidel,
That doth not appertain, as well,
To altered caitiff on the drop;
No wit that would not likewise pass
For wisdom in the famished ass
Who breaks his neck a weed to crop,
When tethered in the luscious grass.
And now, thank God, his hateful name
Shall never rescued be from shame,
Though seas of venal ink be shed;
No sophistry shall reconcile
With sympathy for Erin's Isle,
Or sorrow for her patriot dead,
The weeping of this crocodile.
Life's incongruity is past,
And dirt to dirt is seen at last,
The worm of worm afoul doth fall.
The sexton tolls his solemn bell
For scoundrel dead and gone to-well,
It matters not, it can't recall
This convict from his final cell.
Jerusalem, Old and New.
Didymus Dunkleton Doty Don John
Is a parson of high degree;
He holds forth of Sundays to marvelling crowds
Who wonder how vice can still be
When smitten so stoutly by Didymus Don-
Disciple of Calvin is he.
But sinners still laugh at his talk of the New
Jerusalem-ha-ha, te-he!
And biting their thumbs at the doughty Don-John
This parson of high degree-
They think of the streets of a village they know,
Where horses still sink to the knee,
Contrasting its muck with the pavement of gold
That's laid in the other citee.
They think of the sign that still swings, uneffaced
By winds from the salt, salt sea,
Which tells where he trafficked in tipple, of yore-
Don Dunkleton Johnny, D. D.
Didymus Dunkleton Doty Don John
Still plays on his fiddle-D. D.,
His lambkins still bleat in full psalmody sweet,
And the devil still pitches the key.
Communing with Nature.
One evening I sat on a heavenward hill,
The winds w
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 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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