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The poems that Bierce wrote throughout his career are less well known than his stories, journalistic pieces, and aphoristic observations on human folly. Nevertheless, his work as a poet, as critic Donald Sidney-Fryer has argued, "clearly merits the attention of the discriminating lover and student of poetry." Varied in form and subject matter, most of his poems are (not surprisingly) satires.
This volume contains a generous selection of Bierce's poems; they are alternately ironic, melancholy, bitter, and wickedly amusing. There are also fifteen essays and letters on poetry, poets, and such topics as "Wit and Humor" and "The Passing of Satire." Certainly there have been few authors more intimately familiar with wit and satire than the brilliant, iconoclastic Bierce. As editor M. E. Grenander makes plain in her introduction, both are abundantly present in this collection of "some of the most remarkable verse in American literary history."