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A poem by Ambrose Bierce

In Upper San Francisco

Title:     In Upper San Francisco
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

I heard that Heaven was bright and fair,
And politicians dwelt not there.

'Twas said by knowing ones that they
Were in the Elsewhere--so to say.

So, waking from my last long sleep,
I took my place among the sheep.

I passed the gate--Saint Peter eyed
Me sharply as I stepped inside.

He thought, as afterward I learned,
That I was Chris, the Unreturned.

The new Jerusalem--ah me,
It was a sorry sight to see!

The mansions of the blest were there,
And mostly they were fine and fair;

But O, such streets!--so deep and wide,
And all unpaved, from side to side!

And in a public square there grew
A blighted tree, most sad to view.

From off its trunk the bark was ripped--
Its very branches all were stripped!

An angel perched upon the fence
With all the grace of indolence.

"Celestial bird," I cried, in pain,
"What vandal wrought this wreck? Explain."

He raised his eyelids as if tired:
"What is a Vandal?" he inquired.

"This is the Tree of Life. 'Twas stripped
By Durst and Siebe, who have shipped

"The bark across the Jordan--see?--
And sold it to a tannery."

"Alas," I sighed, "their old-time tricks!
That pavement, too, of golden bricks--

"They've gobbled that?" But with a scowl,
"You greatly wrong them," said the fowl:

"'Twas Gilleran did that, I fear--
Head of the Street Department here."

"What! what!" cried I--"you let such chaps
Come here? You've Satan, too, perhaps."

"We had him, yes, but off he went,
Yet showed some purpose to repent;

"But since your priests and parsons filled
The place with those their preaching killed"--

(Here Siebe passed along with Durst,
Psalming as if their lungs would burst)--

"He swears his foot no more shall press
('Tis cloven, anyhow, I guess)

"Our soil. In short, he's out on strike--
But devils are not all alike."

Lo! Gilleran came down the street,
Pressing the soil with broad, flat feet!

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: In Upper San Francisco