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Literature and Ideas

duel

n.

The Devil's Dictionary

Ambrose Bierce

A formal ceremony preliminary to the reconciliation of two enemies. Great skill is necessary to its satisfactory observance; if awkwardly performed the most unexpected and deplorable consequences sometimes ensue. A long time ago a man lost his life in a duel.

That dueling's a gentlemanly vice
    I hold; and wish that it had been my lot
    To live my life out in some favored spot —
Some country where it is considered nice
To split a rival like a fish, or slice
    A husband like a spud, or with a shot
    Bring down a debtor doubled in a knot
And ready to be put upon the ice.
Some miscreants there are, whom I do long
    To shoot, to stab, or some such way reclaim
The scurvy rogues to better lives and manners,
I seem to see them now—a mighty throng.
    It looks as if to challenge me they came,
Jauntily marching with brass bands and banners!

Xamba Q. Dar