“The Man Born Blind” a poem by Ambrose Bierce


1845-1945, Benjamin R. Tucker, Liberty, Poetry, Trevor Blake / Friday, November 9th, 2018
Aside from a map of the Black Hills region, Ambrose Bierce (1842 – 1914) had yet to publish a book under his own name when the following poem appeared in Liberty Volume 5 Number 25, whole number 129 (July 21, 1888). Liberty was the work of Benjamin R. Tucker (1854 – 1939), who in 1907 would publish the first English-language edition of The Ego and His Own. – Trevor Blake

“The Man Born Blind”
Ambrose Bierce

A man born blind received his sight
By a painful operation;
And these are things he saw in the light
Of an infant observation.

He saw a merchant, good and wise.
And greatly, too, respected,
Who looked, to those imperfect eyes,
Like a swindler undetected.

He saw a patriot address
A noisy public meeting.
And said: ‘Why, that’s a calf, I guess,
That for the teat is bleating.’

A doctor stood beside a bed
And shook his summit sadly.
‘O see that foul assassin!’ said
The man who saw so badly.

He saw a lawyer pleading for
A thief whom they’d been jailing,
And said: ‘That’s an accomplice, or
My sight again is failing.’

Upon the Bench a Justice sat,
With nothing to restrain him;
”Tis strange,’ said the observer, ‘that
They ventured to unchain him.’

With theologic works supplied,
He saw a solemn preacher;
‘A burglar with his kit,’ he cried,
‘To rob a fellow creature.’

A bluff old farmer next he saw
Sell produce in a village,
And said: ‘What, what! is there no law
To punish men for pillage?’

A dame, tall, fair and stately, passed,
Who many charms united;
He thanked his stars his lot was cast
Where sepulchers were whited.

He saw a soldier stiff and stern,
‘Full of strange oaths’ and toddy;
But was unable to discern
A wound upon his body.

Ten square leagues of rolling ground
To one great man belonging,
Looked like one little grassy mound
With worms beneath it thronging.

A palace’s well-carven stones,
Where Dives dwelt contented,
Seemed built throughout of human bones
With human blood cemented.

He watched the yellow shining thread
A silk-worm was a-spinning;
‘That creature’s coining gold.’ he said,
‘To pay some girl for sinning.’

His eyes were so untrained and dim
All politics, religions,
Arts, sciences, appeared to him
But modes of plucking pigeons.

And so he drew his final breath,
And thought he saw with sorrow
Some persons weeping for his death
Who’d be all smiles to-morrow.