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By Ambrose Bierce

Have but one God: thy knees were sore

If bent in prayer to three or four.


Adore no images save those

The coinage of thy country shows.


Take not the Name in vain. Direct

Thy swearing unto some effect.


Thy hand from Sunday work be held—

Work not at all unless compelled.


Honor thy parents, and perchance

Their wills thy fortunes may advance.


Kill not—death liberates thy foe

From persecution’s constant woe.


Kiss not thy neighbor’s wife. Of course

There’s no objection to divorce.


To steal were folly, for ’tis plain

In cheating there is greater gain.


Bear not false witness. Shake your head

And say that you have “heard it said.”


Who stays to covet ne’er will catch

An opportunity to snatch.


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Poet Bio

Ambrose Bierce was a journalist, short story writer, poet, and satirist who wrote about the culture around him with fearlessness and wit. He was one of the most popular writers of his time, and his book The Devil’s Dictionary, a collection of skewering aphorisms, remains a classic. Bierce disappeared mysteriously after deciding to go to war-torn Mexico at the age of seventy-one.

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