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By 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 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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