By Ambrose Bierce
Despots effete upon tottering thrones
Unsteadily poised upon dead men’s bones,
Walk up! walk up! the circus is free,
And this wonderful spectacle you shall see:
Millions of voters who mostly are fools
Demagogues’ dupes and candidates’ tools,
Armies of uniformed mountebanks,
And braying disciples of brainless cranks.
Many a week they’ve bellowed like beeves,
Bitterly blackguarding, lying like thieves,
Libeling freely the quick and the dead
And painting the New Jerusalem red.
Tyrants monarchical-emperors, kings,
Princes and nobles and all such things
Noblemen, gentlemen, step this way:
There’s nothing, the Devil excepted, to pay,
And the freaks and curios here to be seen
Are very uncommonly grand and serene.
No more with vivacity they debate,
Nor cheerfully crack the illogical pate;
No longer, the dull understanding to aid,
The stomach accepts the instructive blade,
Nor the stubborn heart learns what is what
From a revelation of rabbit-shot;
And vilification’s flames-behold!
Burn with a bickering faint and cold.
Magnificent spectacle!-every tongue
Suddenly civil that yesterday rung
(Like a clapper beating a brazen bell)
Each fair reputation’s eternal knell;
Hands no longer delivering blows,
And noses, for counting, arrayed in rows.
Walk up, gentlemen-nothing to pay
The Devil goes back to Hell to-day.