August-17

The Rape of the Lock (Excerpts)
Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744)

Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear!
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Dæmons, hear!
Ye know the spheres and various tasks assign’d
By laws eternal to th’ aërial kind.
Some in the fields of purest Æther play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day.
Some guide the course of wand’ring orbs on high,
Or roll the planets thro’ the boundless sky.
Some less refin’d, beneath the moon’s pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main,
Or o’er the glebe distil the kindly rain.
Others on earth o’er human race preside,
Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide:
Of these the chief the care of Nations own,
And guard with Arms divine the British Throne.

Our humbler province is to tend the Fair,
Not a less pleasing, tho’ less glorious care;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th’ imprison’d-essences exhale;
To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow’rs;
To steal from rainbows e’er they drop in show’rs
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs;
Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow,
To change a Flounce, or add a Furbelow.

Mr. Sheets (from “Black Beetles in Amber”)
Ambrose Bierce (24 June 1842 – 1914)

The Devil stood before the gate
Of Heaven. He had a single mate:
Behind him, in his shadow, slunk
Clay Sheets in a perspiring funk.
“Saint Peter, see this season ticket,”
Said Satan; “pray undo the wicket.”
The sleepy Saint threw slight regard
Upon the proffered bit of card,
Signed by some clerical dead-beats:
“Admit the bearer and Clay Sheets.”
Peter expanded all his eyes:
“‘Clay Sheets?’—well, I’ll be damned!” he cries.
“Our couches are of golden cloud;
Nothing of earth is here allowed.
I’ll let you in,” he added, shedding
On Nick a smile—”but not your bedding.”