Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Word Book (New York: Doubleday, 1906), pp. 117-18. Republished as The Devil's Dictionary (New York: Dover, 1958). PS 1097 D4 1958 ROBA.
1Once I seen a human ruin
2 In a elevator-well.
3And his members was bestrewin'
4 All the place where he had fell.
5And I says, apostrophisin'
6 That uncommon woful wreck:
7"Your position's so surprisin'
8 That I tremble for your neck!"
9Then that ruin, smilin' sadly
10 And impressive, up and spoke:
11"Well, I wouldn't tremble badly,
12 For it's been a fortnight broke."
13Then, for further comprehension
14 Of his attitude, he begs
15I will focus my attention
16 On his various arms and legs--
17How they all are contumacious;
18 Where they each, respective, lie;
19How one trotter proves ungracious,
20 T' other one an alibi.
21These particulars is mentioned
22 For to show his dismal state,
23Which I wasn't first intentioned
24 To specifical relate.
25None is worser to be dreaded
26 That I ever have heard tell
27Than the gent's who there was spreaded
28 In that elevator-well.
29Now this tale is allegoric--
30 It is figurative all,
31For the well is metaphoric
32 And the feller didn't fall.
33I opine it isn't moral
34 For a writer-man to cheat,
35And despise to wear a laurel
36 As was gotten by deceit.
37For 'tis Politics intended
38 By the elevator, mind,
39It will boost a person splendid
40 If his talent is the kind.
42 (For the busted man is him)
43And it shot him up right gallant
44 Till his head began to swim.
45Then the rope it broke above him
46 And he painful came to earth
47Where there's nobody to love him
48 For his detrimented worth.
49Though he's living' none would know him,
50 Or at leastwise not as such.
51Moral of this woful poem:
52 Frequent oil your safety-clutch.
41] Col. Bryan: William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), US politician and lawyer, defeated three times as the Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States. Bryan was commissioned as a colonel in the Spanish-American war and is buried in Arlington Cemetery. Back to Line
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