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A poem by Ambrose Bierce


Title:     Thanksgiving
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

_The Superintendent of an Almshouse. A Pauper._


So _you're_ unthankful--you'll not eat the bird?
You sit about the place all day and gird.
I understand you'll not attend the ball
That's to be given to-night in Pauper Hall.


Why, that is true, precisely as you've heard:
I have no teeth and I will eat no bird.


Ah! see how good is Providence. Because
Of teeth He has denuded both your jaws
The fowl's made tender; you can overcome it
By suction; or at least--well, you can gum it,
Attesting thus the dictum of the preachers
That Providence is good to all His creatures--
Turkeys excepted. Come, ungrateful friend,
If our Thanksgiving dinner you'll attend
You shall say grace--ask God to bless at least
The soft and liquid portions of the feast.


Without those teeth my speech is rather thick--
He'll hardly understand Gum Arabic.
No, I'll not dine to-day. As to the ball,
'Tis known to you that I've no legs at all.
I had the gout--hereditary; so,
As it could not be cornered in my toe
They cut my legs off in the fond belief
That shortening me would make my anguish brief.
Lacking my legs I could not prosecute
With any good advantage a pursuit;
And so, because my father chose to court
Heaven's favor with his ortolans and Port
(Thanksgiving every day!) the Lord supplied
Saws for my legs, an almshouse for my pride
And, once a year, a bird for my inside.
No, I'll not dance--my light fantastic toe
Took to its heels some twenty years ago.
Some small repairs would be required for putting
My feelings on a saltatory footing.


O the legless man's an unhappy chap--
_Tum-hi, tum-hi, tum-he o'haddy._
The favors o' fortune fall not in his lap--
_Tum-hi, tum-heedle-do hum._
The plums of office avoid his plate
No matter how much he may stump the State--
_Tum-hi, ho-heeee._
The grass grows never beneath his feet,
But he cannot hope to make both ends meet--
With a gleeless eye and a somber heart,
He plays the role of his mortal part:
Wholly himself he can never be.
O, a soleless corporation is he!


The chapel bell is calling, thankless friend,
Balls you may not, but church you _shall_, attend.
Some recognition cannot be denied
To the great mercy that has turned aside
The sword of death from us and let it fall
Upon the people's necks in Montreal;
That spared our city, steeple, roof and dome,
And drowned the Texans out of house and home;
Blessed all our continent with peace, to flood
The Balkan with a cataclysm of blood.
Compared with blessings of so high degree,
Your private woes look mighty small--to me.

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: Thanksgiving