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A poem by Ambrose Bierce

From Top To Bottom

Title:     From Top To Bottom
Author: Ambrose Bierce [More Titles by Bierce]

[Japan has 73,759 Buddhist priests, "most of whom," says a Christian missionary, "are grossly ignorant, and many of them lead scandalous lives."]

O Buddha, had you but foreknown
The vices of your priesthood
It would have made you twist and moan
As any wounded beast would.
You would have damned the entire lot
And turned a Christian, would you not?

There were no Christians, I'll allow,
In your day; that would only
Have brought distinction. Even now
A Christian might feel lonely.
All take the name, but facts are things
As stubborn as the will of kings.

The priests were ignorant and low
When ridiculed by Lucian;
The records, could we read, might show
The same of times Confucian.
And yet the fact I can't disguise
That Deacon Rankin's good and wise.

'Tis true he is not quite a priest,
Nor more than half a preacher;
But he exhorts as loud at least
As any living creature.
And when the plate is passed about
He never takes a penny out.

From Buddha down to Rankin! There,--
I never did intend to.
This pen's a buzzard's quill, I swear,
Such subjects to descend to.
When from the humming-bird I've wrung
A plume I'll write of Mike de Young.

[The end]
Ambrose Bierce's poem: From Top To Bottom