The most glorious misanthrope, Bierce, gives the best holiday greetings.
-The Voice before the Void
“A Social Call”
Well, well, old Father Christmas, is it you,
With your thick neck and thin pretense of virtue?
Less redness in the nose—nay, even some blue
Would not, I think, particularly hurt you.
When seen close to, not mounted in your car,
You look the drunkard and the pig you are.
No matter, sit you down, for I am not
In a gray study, as you sometimes find me.
Merry? O, no, nor wish to be, God wot,
But there’s another year of pain behind me.
That’s something to be thankful for: the more
There are behind, the fewer are before.
I know you, Father Christmas, for a scamp,
But Heaven endowed me at my soul’s creation
With an affinity to every tramp
That walks the world and steals its admiration.
For admiration is like linen left
Upon the line—got easiest by theft.
Good God! old man, just think of it! I’ve stood,
With brains and honesty, some five-and-twenty
Long years as champion of all that’s good,
And taken on the mazzard thwacks a-plenty.
Yet now whose praises do the people bawl?
Those of the fellows whom I live to maul!
Why, this is odd!—the more I try to talk
Of you the more my tongue grows egotistic
To prattle of myself! I’ll try to balk
Its waywardness and be more altruistic.
So let us speak of others—how they sin,
And what a devil of a state they ‘re in!
That’s all I have to say. Good-bye, old man.
Next year you possibly may find me scolding—
Or miss me altogether: Nature’s plan
Includes, as I suppose, a final folding
Of these poor empty hands. Then drop a tear
To think they’ll never box another ear.