by Ambrose Bierce



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 cried:   "Give, 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 wide:       "I'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 shell:   "Ho, 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.