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A poem by Ambrose Bierce

An "Exhibit"

Title:     An "Exhibit"
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

Goldenson hanged! Well, Heaven forbid
That I should smile above him:
Though truth to tell, I never did
Exactly love him.

It can't be wrong, though, to rejoice
That his unpleasing capers
Are ended. Silent is his voice
In all the papers.

No longer he's a show: no more,
Bear-like, his den he's walking.
No longer can he hold the floor
When I'd be talking.

The laws that govern jails are bad
If such displays are lawful.
The fate of the assassin's sad,
But ours is awful!

What! shall a wretch condemned to die
In shame upon the gibbet
Be set before the public eye
As an "exhibit"?--

His looks, his actions noted down,
His words if light or solemn,
And all this hawked about the town--
So much a column?

The press, of course, will publish news
However it may get it;
But blast the sheriff who'll abuse
His powers to let it!

Nay, this is not ingratitude;
I'm no reporter, truly,
Nor yet an editor. I'm rude
Because unruly--

Because I burn with shame and rage
Beyond my power of telling
To see assassins in a cage
And keepers yelling.

"Walk up! Walk up!" the showman cries:
"Observe the lion's poses,
His stormy mane, his glooming eyes.
His--hold your noses!"

How long, O Lord, shall Law and Right
Be mocked for gain or glory,
And angels weep as they recite
The shameful story?

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: "Exhibit"