The Statesmen

By Ambrose Bierce 1842–1914 Ambrose Bierce
How blest the land that counts among
      Her sons so many good and wise,
To execute great feats of tongue
      When troubles rise.

Behold them mounting every stump,
      By speech our liberty to guard.
Observe their courage—see them jump,
      And come down hard!

"Walk up, walk up!" each cries aloud,
      "And learn from me what you must do
To turn aside the thunder cloud,
      The earthquake too.

"Beware the wiles of yonder quack
      Who stuffs the ears of all that pass.
I—I alone can show that black
      Is white as grass."

They shout through all the day and break
      The silence of the night as well.
They'd make—I wish they'd go and make—
      Of Heaven a Hell.

A advocates free silver, B
      Free trade and C free banking laws.
Free board, clothes, lodging would from me
      Win warm applause.

Lo, D lifts up his voice: "You see
      The single tax on land would fall
On all alike." More evenly
      No tax at all.

"With paper money," bellows E,
      "We'll all be rich as lords." No doubt—
And richest of the lot will be
      The chap without.

As many "cures" as addle-wits
      Who know not what the ailment is!
Meanwhile the patient foams and spits
      Like a gin fizz.

Alas, poor Body Politic,
      Your fate is all too clearly read:
To be not altogether quick,
      Nor very dead.

You take your exercise in squirms,
      Your rest in fainting fits between.
'Tis plain that your disorder's worms—
      Worms fat and lean.

Worm Capital, Worm Labor dwell
      Within your maw and muscle's scope.
Their quarrels make your life a Hell,
      Your death a hope.

God send you find not such an end
      To ills however sharp and huge!
God send you convalesce! God send
      You vermifuge.

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Poet Ambrose Bierce 1842–1914

Subjects History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Allusion, Simile

 Ambrose  Bierce


Ambrose Bierce's literary reputation is based primarily on his short stories about the Civil War and the supernatural—a body of work that makes up a relatively small part of his total output. Often compared to the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, these stories share an attraction to death in its more bizarre forms, featuring depictions of mental deterioration, uncanny, otherworldly manifestations, and expressions of the horror of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Humor & Satire, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Allusion, Simile

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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