“Business” by Ambrose Bierce
“TWO villains of the highest rank set out one night to rob a bank.”
So begins Ambrose Bierce’s sardonic and witty poem, “Business.” Most famous for his literary fiction and his collection of satirical definitions, called The Devil’s Dictionary, Bierce was also a poet. “Business” is an ironic telling of two villains who are not typical burglars. Even in his poetry, Bierce manages to hit his readers with a heavy dose of biting social commentary.
Bierce began his career as a journalist, first at an abolitionist paper, and eventually at the San Francisco Examiner. He often wrote about what he witnessed during the Civil War. He endured great personal tragedy, including the death of two of his beloved children and separation from his wife, Mollie. Bierce is also remembered as a fierce opponent to the railroading industry in California, and was one of the few journalists brave enough to expose the corruptive natures of the great railroad moguls.
“Business” is a great example of Bierce’s criticism of capitalist greed.
Bierce mysteriously disappeared during a visit to revolutionary Mexico. His remains have never been found.