The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce

Artist

Artist

Art, n. This word has no definition. Its origin is related as follows by the ingenious Father Gassalasca Jape, SJ.

One day a wag – what would the wretch be at? –
Shifted a letter of the cipher RAT,
And said it was a gods name! Straight arose
Fantastic priests and postulants (with shows,
And mysteries, and mummeries, and hymns,
And disputations dire that lamed their limbs)
To serve his temple and maintain the fires,
Expound the law, manipulate the wires.
Amazed, the populace the rites attend,
Believe whate’er they cannot comprehend,
And, inly edified to learn that two
Half-hairs joined so and so (as Art can do)
Have sweeter values and a grace more fit
Than Nature’s hairs that never have been split,
Bring cates and wines for sacrificial feasts,
And sell their garments to support the priests.

Text quoted from The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, The Folio Society, London, 2003:pp15. Image reproduced from http://www.authorama.com/the-devils-dictionary-2.html [accessed 19072016}