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Full Online Book HomePoemsPosterity's Award
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Posterity's Award Post by :MelBalingit Category :Poems Author :Ambrose Bierce Date :March 2011 Read :3324

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Posterity's Award

I'd long been dead, but I returned to earth.
Some small affairs posterity was making
A mess of, and I came to see that worth
Received its dues. I'd hardly finished waking,
The grave-mould still upon me, when my eye
Perceived a statue standing straight and high.

'Twas a colossal figure--bronze and gold--
Nobly designed, in attitude commanding.
A toga from its shoulders, fold on fold,
Fell to the pedestal on which 'twas standing.
Nobility it had and splendid grace,
And all it should have had--except a face!

It showed no features: not a trace nor sign
Of any eyes or nose could be detected--
On the smooth oval of its front no line
Where sites for mouths are commonly selected.
All blank and blind its faulty head it reared.
Let this be said: 'twas generously eared.

Seeing these things, I straight began to guess
For whom this mighty image was intended.
"The head," I cried, "is Upton's, and the dress
Is Parson Bartlett's own." True, _his_ cloak ended
Flush with his lowest vertebra, but no
Sane sculptor ever made a toga so.

Then on the pedestal these words I read:
"_Erected Eighteen Hundred Ninety-seven_"
(Saint Christofer! how fast the time had sped!
Of course it naturally does in Heaven)
"_To_ ----" (here a blank space for the name began)
"_The Nineteenth Century's Great Foremost Man_!"

"_Completed_" the inscription ended, "_in
The Year Three Thousand_"--which was just arriving.
By Jove! thought I, 'twould make the founders grin
To learn whose fame so long has been surviving--
To read the name posterity will place
In that blank void, and view the finished face.

Even as I gazed, the year Three Thousand came,
And then by acclamation all the people
Decreed whose was our century's best fame;
Then scaffolded the statue like a steeple,
To make the likeness; and the name was sunk
Deep in the pedestal's metallic trunk.

Whose was it? Gentle reader, pray excuse
The seeming rudeness, but I can't consent to
Be so forehanded with important news.
'Twas neither yours nor mine--let that content you.
If not, the name I must surrender, which,
Upon a dead man's word, was George K. Fitch!


(The end)
Ambrose Bierce's poem: Posterity's Award

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