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Shapes of Clay   By: (1842-1914?)

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[Illustration: Ambrose Bierce.]

SHAPES OF CLAY

BY

AMBROSE BIERCE

AUTHOR OF "IN THE MIDST OF LIFE," "CAN SUCH THINGS BE?" "BLACK BEETLES IN AMBER," AND "FANTASTIC FABLES"

1903

DEDICATION.

WITH PRIDE IN THEIR WORK, FAITH IN THEIR FUTURE AND AFFECTION FOR THEMSELVES, AN OLD WRITER DEDICATES THIS BOOK TO HIS YOUNG FRIENDS AND PUPILS, GEORGE STERLING AND HERMAN SCHEFFAUER. A.B.

PREFACE.

Some small part of this book being personally censorious, and in that part the names of real persons being used without their assent, it seems fit that a few words be said of the matter in sober prose. What it seems well to say I have already said with sufficient clarity in the preface of another book, somewhat allied to this by that feature of its character. I quote from "Black Beetles in Amber:"

"Many of the verses in this book are republished, with considerable alterations, from various newspapers. Of my motives in writing and in now republishing I do not care to make either defence or explanation, except with reference to those who since my first censure of them have passed away. To one having only a reader's interest in the matter it may easily seem that the verses relating to those might properly have been omitted from this collection. But if these pieces, or indeed, if any considerable part of my work in literature, have the intrinsic worth which by this attempt to preserve some of it I have assumed, their permanent suppression is impossible, and it is only a question of when and by whom they will be republished. Some one will surely search them out and put them in circulation.

"I conceive it the right of an author to have his fugitive work collected in his lifetime; and this seems to me especially true of one whose work, necessarily engendering animosities, is peculiarly exposed to challenge as unjust. That is a charge that can best be examined before time has effaced the evidence. For the death of a man of whom I have written what I may venture to think worthy to live I am no way responsible; and however sincerely I may regret it, I can hardly consent that it shall affect my literary fortunes. If the satirist who does not accept the remarkable doctrine that, while condemning the sin he should spare the sinner, were bound to let the life of his work be coterminous with that of his subject his were a lot of peculiar hardship.

"Persuaded of the validity of all this I have not hesitated to reprint even certain 'epitaphs' which, once of the living, are now of the dead, as all the others must eventually be. The objection inheres in all forms of applied satire my understanding of whose laws and liberties is at least derived from reverent study of the masters. That in respect of matters herein mentioned I have but followed their practice can be shown by abundant instance and example."

In arranging these verses for publication I have thought it needless to classify them according to character, as "Serious," "Comic," "Sentimental," "Satirical," and so forth. I do the reader the honor to think that he will readily discern the nature of what he is reading; and I entertain the hope that his mood will accommodate itself without disappointment to that of his author.

AMBROSE BIERCE.

CONTENTS.

THE PASSING SHOW ELIXIR VITAE CONVALESCENT AT THE CLOSE OF THE CANVASS NOVUM ORGANUM GEOTHEOS YORICK A VISION OF DOOM POLITICS POESY IN DEFENSE AN INVOCATION RELIGION A MORNING FANCY VISIONS OF SIN THE TOWN OF DAE AN ANARCHIST AN OFFER OF MARRIAGE ARMA VIRUMQUE ON A PROPOSED CREMATORY A DEMAND THE WEATHER WIGHT T.A.H. MY MONUMENT MAD HOSPITALITY FOR A CERTAIN CRITIC RELIGIOUS PROGRESS MAGNANIMITY TO HER TO A SUMMER POET ARTHUR MCEWEN CHARLES AND PETER CONTEMPLATION CREATION BUSINESS A POSSIBILITY TO A CENSOR THE HESITATING VETERAN A YEAR'S CASUALTIES INSPIRATION TO DAY AN ALIBI REBUKE J... Continue reading book >>




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