Ambrose Gwinett Bierce Quotes on Sin (8 Quotes)


    SMITHAREEN, n. A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it led them to the devil it is seen at its best; The wheels go round without a sound -- The maidens hold high revel In sinful mood, insanely gay, True spinsters spin adown the way From duty to the devil They laugh, they sing, and --ting-a-ling Their bells go all the morning Their lanterns bright bestar the night Pedestrians a-warning. With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands, Good-Lording and O-mying, Her rheumatism forgotten quite, Her fat with anger frying. She blocks the path that leads to wrath, Jack Satan's power defying. The wheels go round without a sound The lights burn red and blue and green. What's this that's found upon the ground Poor Charlotte Smith's a smithareen --John William Yope.

    BRAHMA, n. He who created the Hindoos, who are preserved by Vishnu and destroyed by Siva --a rather neater division of labor than is found among the deities of some other nations. The Abracadabranese, for example, are created by Sin, maintained by Theft and destroyed by Folly. The priests of Brahma, like those of Abracadabranese, are holy and learned men who are never naughty.O Brahma, thou rare old Divinity, First Person of the Hindoo Trinity, You sit there so calm and securely, With feet folded up so demurely -- You're the First Person Singular, surely. --Polydore Smith

    CROSS, n. An ancient religious symbol erroneously supposed to owe its significance to the most solemn event in the history of Christianity, but really antedating it by thousands of years. By many it has been believed to be identical with the crux ansata of the ancient phallic worship, but it has been traced even beyond all that we know of that, to the rites of primitive peoples. We have to-day the White Cross as a symbol of chastity, and the Red Cross as a badge of benevolent neutrality in war. Having in mind the former, the reverend Father Gassalasca Jape smites the lyre to the effect followingBe good, be good the sisterhood Cry out in holy chorus, And, to dissuade from sin, parade Their various charms before us.But why, O why, has ne'er an eye Seen her of winsome manner And youthful grace and pretty face Flaunting the White Cross bannerNow where's the need of speech and screed To better our behaving A simpler plan for saving man(But, first, is he worth saving)Is, dears, when he declines to flee From bad thoughts that beset him, Ignores the Law as 't were a straw, And wants to sin --don't let him.

    CUPID, n. The so-called god of love. This bastard creation of a barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of its deities. Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is the most reasonless and offensive. The notion of symbolizing sexual love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the wounds of an arrow --of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work --this is eminently worthy of the age that, giving it birth, laid it on the doorstep of prosperity.

    SANDLOTTER, n. A vertebrate mammal holding the political views of Denis Kearney, a notorious demagogue of San Francisco, whose audiences gathered in the open spaces (sandlots) of the town. True to the traditions of his species, this leader of the proletariat was finally bought off by his law-and-order enemies, living prosperously silent and dying impenitently rich. But before his treason he imposed upon California a constitution that was a confection of sin in a diction of solecisms. The similarity between the words sandlotter and sansculotte is problematically significant, but indubitably suggestive.


    JESTER, n. An officer formerly attached to a king's household, whose business it was to amuse the court by ludicrous actions and utterances, the absurdity being attested by his motley costume. The king himself being attired with dignity, it took the world some centuries to discover that his own conduct and decrees were sufficiently ridiculous for the amusement not only of his court but of all mankind. The jester was commonly called a fool, but the poets and romancers have ever delighted to represent him as a singularly wise and witty person. In the circus of to-day the melancholy ghost of the court fool effects the dejection of humbler audiences with the same jests wherewith in life he gloomed the marble hall, panged the patrician sense of humor and tapped the tank of royal tears. The widow-queen of Portugal Had an audacious jester Who entered the confessional Disguised, and there confessed her. Father, she said, thine ear bend down -- My sins are more than scarlet I love my fool --blaspheming clown, And common, base-born varlet. Daughter, the mimic priest replied, That sin, indeed, is awful The church's pardon is denied To love that is unlawful. But since thy stubborn heart will be For him forever pleading, Thou'dst better make him, by decree, A man of birth and breeding. She made the fool a duke, in hope With Heaven's taboo to palter Then told a priest, who told the Pope, Who damned her from the altar --Barel Dort.

    CARMELITE, n. A mendicant friar of the order of Mount Carmel.As Death was a-rising out one day, Across Mount Camel he took his way, Where he met a mendicant monk, Some three or four quarters drunk, With a holy leer and a pious grin, Ragged and fat and as saucy as sin, Who held out his hands and criedGive, give in Charity's name, I pray. Give in the name of the Church. O give, Give that her holy sons may live And Death replied, Smiling long and wideI'll give, holy father, I'll give thee --a ride.With a rattle and bang Of his bones, he sprang From his famous Pale Horse, with his spear By the neck and the foot Seized the fellow, and put Him astride with his face to the rear.The Monarch laughed loud with a sound that fell Like clods on the coffin's sounding shellHo, ho A beggar on horseback, they say, Will ride to the devil --and thump Fell the flat of his dart on the rump Of the charger, which galloped away.Faster and faster and faster it flew, Till the rocks and the flocks and the trees that grew By the road were dim and blended and blue To the wild, wild eyes Of the rider --in size Resembling a couple of blackberry pies. Death laughed again, as a tomb might laugh At a burial service spoiled, And the mourners' intentions foiled By the body erecting Its head and objecting To further proceedings in its behalf.Many a year and many a day Have passed since these events away. The monk has long been a dusty corse, And Death has never recovered his horse. For the friar got hold of its tail, And steered it within the pale Of the monastery gray, Where the beast was stabled and fed With barley and oil and bread Till fatter it grew than the fattest friar, And so in due course was appointed Prior. --G.J.

    COMMONWEALTH, n. An administrative entity operated by an incalculable multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously efficient. This commonwealth's capitol's corridors view, So thronged with a hungry and indolent crew Of clerks, pages, porters and all attaches Whom rascals appoint and the populace pays That a cat cannot slip through the thicket of shins Nor hear its own shriek for the noise of their chins. On clerks and on pages, and porters, and all, Misfortune attend and disaster befall May life be to them a succession of hurts May fleas by the bushel inhabit their shirts May aches and diseases encamp in their bones, Their lungs full of tubercles, bladders of stones May microbes, bacilli, their tissues infest, And tapeworms securely their bowels digest May corn-cobs be snared without hope in their hair, And frequent impalement their pleasure impair. Disturbed be their dreams by the awful discourse Of audible sofas sepulchrally hoarse, By chairs acrobatic and wavering floors -- The mattress that kicks and the pillow that snores Sons of cupidity, cradled in sin Your criminal ranks may the death angel thin, Avenging the friend whom I couldn't work in. --K. Q.


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