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Cafe Press

by Ambrose Bierce
From "Black Beetles in Amber"

Big Smith is an Oakland School Board man,
And he looks as good as ever he can;
And he's such a cold and a chaste Big Smith
That snowflakes all are his kin and kith.
Wherever his eye he chances to throw
The crystals of ice begin to grow;
And the fruits and flowers he sees are lost
By the singeing touch of a sudden frost.
The women all shiver whenever he's near,
And look upon _us_ with a look austere--
Effect of the Smithian atmosphere.
Such, in a word, is the moral plan
Of the Big, Big Smith, the School Board man.
When told that Madame Ferrier had taught
_Hernani_ in school, his fist he brought
Like a trip-hammer down on his bulbous knee,
And he roared: "Her Nanny? By gum, we'll see
If the public's time she dares devote
To the educatin' of any dam goat!"
"You do not entirely comprehend--
_Hernani's_ a play," said his learned friend,
"By Victor Hugo--immoral and bad.
What's worse, it's French!" "Well, well, my lad,"
Said Smith, "if he cuts a swath so wide
I'll have him took re'glar up and tried!"
And he smiled so sweetly the other chap
Thought that himself was a Finn or Lapp
Caught in a storm of his native snows,
With a purple ear and an azure nose.
The Smith continued: "I never pursue
Immoral readin'." And that is true:
He's a saint of remarkably high degree,
With a mind as chaste as a mind can be;
But read!--the devil a word can he!