My Cart 
Login 

Previous

The Legatee
by
Ambrose Bierce


Next
 

In fair San Francisco a good man did dwell,
And he wrote out a will, for he didn't feel well.
Said he: "It is proper, when making a gift,
To stimulate virtue by comforting thrift."
So he left all his property, legal and straight,
To "the cursedest rascal in all of the State."
But the name he refused to insert, for, said he:
"Let each man consider himself legatee."
In due course of time that philanthropist died,
And all San Francisco, and Oakland beside-
Save only the lawyers-came each with his claim,
The lawyers preferring to manage the same.
The cases were tried in Department Thirteen,
Judge Murphy presided, sedate and serene,
But couldn't quite specify, legal and straight,
The cursedest rascal in all of the State.
And so he remarked to them, little and big-
To claimants: "You skip!" and to lawyers: "You dig!"
They tumbled, tumultuous, out of his court
And left him victorious, holding the fort.
'Twas then that he said: "It is plain to my mind
This property's ownerless-how can I find
The cursedest rascal in all of the State?"
So he took it himself, which was legal and straight.


This poem is in the public domain.

 


Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914, presumed) was born in Ohio, then raised on a farm in Indiana in a very large family with little money, but lots of books. He embarked on a newspaper career at the age of fifteen but, four years later, enlisted in the Union army and gave distinctive service there for many years before resuming his journalism career. Intelligent and ascerbic, Ambrose enjoyed writing satire and social criticism, and was lauded for a distinctive style which he displayed in multiple genres; in particularly, he is considered a master of the American short story.

In a bizarre, late-life adventure, Ambrose traveled to Mexico and began traveling as an "observer" with Pancho Villa's army. He was last seen in Chihuahua and last heard from on the day after Christmas in 1913; no one knows what became of him, though there have been several movies and books speculating on his demise and final days.

 


Post New Comment:
pwax:
I laughed out loud! Thanks for making us aware of this poem.
Posted 12/05/2011 10:42 AM
dotief@comcast.net:
I love it! I am still laughing. Thanks!
Posted 12/05/2011 08:27 AM


Contents of this web site and all original text and images therein are copyright © by Your Daily Poem. All rights reserved.
As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Purchasing books through any poet's Amazon links helps to support Your Daily Poem.
The material on this site may not be copied, reproduced, downloaded, distributed, transmitted, stored, altered, adapted,
or otherwise used in any way without the express written permission of the owner.