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Funny Fairy Tales by Ambrose Bierce

The Poetess of Reform

ONE pleasant day in the latter part of eternity, as the Shades of
all the great writers were reposing upon beds of asphodel and moly
in the Elysian fields, each happy in hearing from the lips of the
others nothing but copious quotation from his own works (for so
Jove had kindly bedeviled their ears), there came in among them
with triumphant mien a Shade whom none knew. She (for the newcomer
showed such evidences of sex as cropped hair and a manly stride)
took a seat in their midst, and smiling a superior smile explained:

'After centuries of oppression I have wrested my rights from the
grasp of the jealous gods. On earth I was the Poetess of Reform,
and sang to inattentive ears. Now for an eternity of honour and
glory.'

But it was not to be so, and soon she was the unhappiest of
mortals, vainly desirous to wander again in gloom by the infernal
lakes. For Jove had not bedeviled her ears, and she heard from the
lips of each blessed Shade an incessant flow of quotation from his
own works. Moreover, she was denied the happiness of repeating her
poems. She could not recall a line of them, for Jove had decreed
that the memory of them abide in Pluto's painful domain, as a part
of the apparatus.


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