Original Text: 
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.
Safety-Clutch, n. A mechanical device acting automatically to prevent the fall of an elevator, or cage, in case of an accident to the hoisting apparatus.
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.
Porfer Poog.


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
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.