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Rimer -- Ambrose Bierce

(Poem #320) Rimer
 The rimer quenches his unheeded fires,
 The sound surceases and the sense expires.
 Then the domestic dog, to east and west,
 Expounds the passions burning in his breast.
 The rising moon o'er that enchanted land
 Pauses to hear and yearns to understand.
-- Ambrose Bierce
Note: 'Rimer' is simply a synonym for 'rhymer' or poet. The word was
archaic even in Bierce's day (of which more later). However, the poem itself
follows the Devil's Dictionary entry for Rimer, which reads "Rimer, n. A
poet regarded with indifference or disesteem." It was attributed to "Mowbray
Myles" (a habit Bierce was fond of - see some of the other DD entries)

Bierce could be extremely cutting and cynical when he wanted to (which was
practically all the time); however what makes his verse worth running was
the skill with which his diatribes were delivered.

Note how wonderfully he sets up and skewers his target here. The surface
metaphor in the first four lines is, of course, hardly new or original. But
Bierce then goes on to invoke the moon, with its strong associations with
both poets and howling dogs, which at once raises the insult above the level
of the commonplace - in one stroke, it provides completion and coherence,
turning a derogatory comparision into a finished poem.

Nor does he stop there - the language throughout is 'poetic', but in a
rather self-conscious way, treading the fine line between good and bad
poetry[1] and not-so-subtly poking fun at the poet manqué. The final touch
is the use of 'rimer' rather than 'rhymer', an obvious affectation[2] that
merely highlights the difference between aspiration and reality.

[1] the word 'doggerel' is practically begging to be used here, making me
wonder if the pun was intentional - especially since 'doggerel' is
marked "etymology unknown, but probably from 'dog'".

[2] made even clearer by the Devil's Dictionary entry for 'rime':

  Agreeing sounds in the terminals of verse, mostly bad. The verses
  themselves, as distinguished from prose, mostly dull. Usually (and
  wickedly) spelled "rhyme."



We've run one other poem by Bierce; see poem #148

There's also a biography at the end.

The above poem is included in Bierce's Devil's Dictionary, which may be
found at [broken link]

19 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

ashutosh parande said...

this poem also reminds you of another one such:
The Eagle by tennyson
i think this is another superb parody, in a way

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