Edgar Lee Masters

State’s Attorney Fallas By Edgar Lee Masters

State’s Attorney Fallas By Edgar Lee Masters

State’s Attorney Fallas I, the scourge-wielder, balance-wrecker, Smiter with whips and swords; I, hater of the breakers of the law; I, legalist, inexorable and bitter, Driving the jury to hang the madman, Barry Holden, Was made as one dead by light too bright for eyes, And woke to face a Truth... »

Many Soldiers By Edgar Lee Masters

Many Soldiers By Edgar Lee Masters

Many Soldiers The idea danced before us as a flag; The sound of martial music; The thrill of carrying a gun; Advancement in the world on coming home; A glint of glory, wrath for foes; A dream of duty to country or to God. But these were things in ourselves, shining before us, They were not the power... »

Editor Whedon By Edgar Lee Masters

Editor Whedon By Edgar Lee Masters

Editor Whedon To be able to see every side of every question; To be on every side, to be everything, to be nothing long; To pervert truth, to ride it for a purpose, To use great feelings and passions of the human family For base designs, for cunning ends, To wear a mask like the Greek actors —... »

Alfonso Churchill By Edgar Lee Masters

Alfonso Churchill By Edgar Lee Masters

Alfonso Churchill They laughed at me as “Prof. Moon,” As a boy in Spoon River, born with the thirst Of knowing about the stars. They jeered when I spoke of the lunar mountains, And the thrilling heat and cold, And the ebon valleys by silver peaks, And Spica quadrillions of miles away, An... »

William Jones By Edgar Lee Masters

William Jones By Edgar Lee Masters

William Jones Once in a while a curious weed unknown to me, Needing a name from my books; Once in a while a letter from Yeomans. Out of the mussel-shells gathered along the shore Sometimes a pearl with a glint like meadow rue: Then betimes a letter from Tyndall in England, Stamped with the stamp of ... »

Rutherford Mcdowell By Edgar Lee Masters

Rutherford Mcdowell By Edgar Lee Masters

Rutherford Mcdowell They brought me ambrotypes Of the old pioneers to enlarge. And sometimes one sat for me— Some one who was in being When giant hands from the womb of the world Tore the republic. What was it in their eyes?— For I could never fathom That mystical pathos of drooped eyelids, And the ... »

Jonathan Swift Somers By Edgar Lee Masters

Jonathan Swift Somers By Edgar Lee Masters

Jonathan Swift Somers After you have enriched your soul To the highest point, With books, thought, suffering, the understanding of many personalities, The power to interpret glances, silences, The pauses in momentous transformations, The genius of divination and prophecy; So that you feel able at ti... »

Blind Jack By Edgar Lee Masters

Blind Jack By Edgar Lee Masters

Blind Jack I had fiddled all day at the county fair. But driving home “Butch” Weldy and Jack McGuire, Who were roaring full, made me fiddle and fiddle To the song of Susie Skinner, while whipping the horses Till they ran away. Blind as I was, I tried to get out As the carriage fell in th... »

Tom Merritt By Edgar Lee Masters

Tom Merritt By Edgar Lee Masters

Tom Merritt At first I suspected something — She acted so calm and absent-minded. And one day I heard the back door shut, As I entered the front, and I saw him slink Back of the smokehouse into the lot, And run across the field. And I meant to kill him on sight. But that day, walking near Four... »

Petit, The Poet By Edgar Lee Masters

Petit, The Poet By Edgar Lee Masters

Petit, The Poet Seeds in a dry pod, tick, tick, tick, Tick, tick, tick, like mites in a quarrel– Faint iambics that the full breeze wakens– But the pine tree makes a symphony thereof. Triolets, villanelles, rondels, rondeaus, Ballades by the score with the same old thought: The snows and... »

George Gray By Edgar Lee Masters

George Gray By Edgar Lee Masters

George Gray I have studied many times The marble which was chiseled for me — A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor. In truth it pictures not my destination But my life. For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment; Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid; Ambition ... »

Aner Clute By Edgar Lee Masters

Aner Clute By Edgar Lee Masters

Aner Clute Over and over they used to ask me, While buying the wine or the beer, In Peoria first, and later in Chicago, Denver, Frisco, New York, wherever I lived, How I happened to lead the life, And what was the start of it. Well, I told them a silk dress, And a promise of marriage from a rich man... »

Silence By Edgar Lee Masters

Silence By Edgar Lee Masters

Silence I have known the silence of the stars and of the sea, And the silence of the city when it pauses, And the silence of a man and a maid, And the silence of the sick When their eyes roam about the room. And I ask: For the depths, Of what use is language? A beast of the field moans a few times W... »

Lydia Puckett By Edgar Lee Masters

Lydia Puckett By Edgar Lee Masters

Lydia Puckett Knowlt Hoheimer ran away to the war The day before Curl Trenary Swore out a warrant through Justice Arnett For stealing hogs. But that’s not the reason he turned a soldier. He caught me running with Lucius Atherton. We quarreled and I told him never again To cross my path. Then h... »

Elmer Karr By Edgar Lee Masters

Elmer Karr By Edgar Lee Masters

Elmer Karr What but the love of God could have softened And made forgiving the people of Spoon River Toward me who wronged the bed of Thomas Merritt And murdered him beside? Oh, loving hearts that took me in again When I returned from fourteen years in prison! Oh, helping hands that in the church re... »

Albert Schirding By Edgar Lee Masters

Albert Schirding By Edgar Lee Masters

Albert Schirding Jonas Keene thought his lot a hard one Because his children were all failures. But I know of a fate more trying than that: It is to be a failure while your children are successes. For I raised a brood of eagles Who flew away at last, leaving me A crow on the abandoned bough. Then, w... »

Yee Bow By Edgar Lee Masters

Yee Bow By Edgar Lee Masters

Yee Bow They got me into the Sunday-school In Spoon River And tried to get me to drop Confucius for Jesus. I could have been no worse off If I had tried to get them to drop Jesus for Confucius. For, without any warning, as if it were a prank, And sneaking up behind me, Harry Wiley, The minister̵... »

Roy Butler By Edgar Lee Masters

Roy Butler By Edgar Lee Masters

Roy Butler If the learned Supreme Court of Illinois Got at the secret of every case As well as it does a case of rape It would be the greatest court in the world. A jury, of neighbors mostly, with “Butch” Weldy As foreman, found me guilty in ten minutes And two ballots on a case like thi... »

Johnnie Sayre By Edgar Lee Masters

Johnnie Sayre By Edgar Lee Masters

Johnnie Sayre Father, thou canst never know The anguish that smote my heart For my disobedience, the moment I felt The remorseless wheel of the engine Sink into the crying flesh of my leg. As they carried me to the home of widow Morris I could see the school-house in the valley To which I played tru... »

Bert Kessler By Edgar Lee Masters

Bert Kessler By Edgar Lee Masters

Bert Kessler I winged my bird, Though he flew toward the setting sun; But just as the shot rang out, he soared Up and up through the splinters of golden light, Till he turned right over, feathers ruffled, With some of the down of him floating near, And fell like a plummet into the grass. I tramped a... »

Trainor The Druggist By Edgar Lee Masters

Trainor The Druggist By Edgar Lee Masters

Trainor The Druggist Only the chemist can tell, and not always the chemist, What will result from compounding Fluids or solids. And who can tell How men and women will interact On each other, or what children will result? There were Benjamin Pantier and his wife, Good in themselves, but evil toward ... »

O Glorious France By Edgar Lee Masters

O Glorious France By Edgar Lee Masters

O Glorious France You have become a forge of snow-white fire, A crucible of molten steel, O France! Your sons are stars who cluster to a dawn And fade in light for you, O glorious France! They pass through meteor changes with a song Which to all islands and all continents Says life is neither comfor... »

Flossie Cabanis By Edgar Lee Masters

Flossie Cabanis By Edgar Lee Masters

Flossie Cabanis From Bindle’s opera house in the village To Broadway is a great step. But I tried to take it, my ambition fired When sixteen years of age, Seeing “East Lynne” played here in the village By Ralph Barrett, the coming Romantic actor, who enthralled my soul. True, I tra... »

Amos Sibley By Edgar Lee Masters By Edgar Lee Masters

Amos Sibley By Edgar Lee Masters By Edgar Lee Masters

Amos Sibley Not character, not fortitude, not patience Were mine, the which the village thought I had In bearing with my wife, while preaching on, Doing the work God chose for me. I loathed her as a termagant, as a wanton. I knew of her adulteries, every one. But even so, if I divorced the woman I m... »

Silas Dement By Edgar Lee Masters

Silas Dement By Edgar Lee Masters

Silas Dement It was moon-light, and the earth sparkled With new-fallen frost. It was midnight and not a soul abroad. Out of the chimney of the court-house A gray-hound of smoke leapt and chased The northwest wind. I carried a ladder to the landing of the stairs And leaned it against the frame of the... »

Margaret Fuller Slack By Edgar Lee Masters

Margaret Fuller Slack By Edgar Lee Masters

Margaret Fuller Slack I would have been as great as George Eliot But for an untoward fate. For look at the photograph of me made by Penniwit, Chin resting on hand, and deep-set eyes — Gray, too, and far-searching. But there was the old, old problem: Should it be celibacy, matrimony or unchasti... »

E.C. Culbertson By Edgar Lee Masters

E.C. Culbertson By Edgar Lee Masters

E.C. Culbertson Is it true, Spoon River, That in the hall-way of the New Court House There is a tablet of bronze Containing the embossed faces Of Editor Whedon and Thomas Rhodes? And is it true that my successful labors In the County Board, without which Not one stone would have been placed on anoth... »

Adam Weirauch By Edgar Lee Masters

Adam Weirauch By Edgar Lee Masters

Adam Weirauch I was crushed between Altgeld and Armour. I lost many friends, much time and money Fighting for Altgeld whom Editor Whedon Denounced as the candidate of gamblers and anarchists. Then Armour started to ship dressed meat to Spoon River, Forcing me to shut down my slaughter-house, And my ... »

Zilpha Marsh By Edgar Lee Masters

Zilpha Marsh By Edgar Lee Masters

Zilpha Marsh At four o’clock in late October I sat alone in the country school-house Back from the road ‘mid stricken fields, And an eddy of wind blew leaves on the pane, And crooned in the flue of the cannon-stove, With its open door blurring the shadows With the spectral glow of a dyin... »

Russian Sonia By Edgar Lee Masters

Russian Sonia By Edgar Lee Masters

Russian Sonia I, born in Weimar Of a mother who was French And German father, a most learned professor, Orphaned at fourteen years, Became a dancer, known as Russian Sonia, All up and down the boulevards of Paris, Mistress betimes of sundry dukes and counts, And later of poor artists and of poets. A... »

John Hancock Otis By Edgar Lee Masters

John Hancock Otis By Edgar Lee Masters

John Hancock Otis As to democracy, fellow citizens, Are you not prepared to admit That I, who inherited riches and was to the manor born, Was second to none in Spoon River In my devotion to the cause of Liberty? While my contemporary, Anthony Findlay, Born in a shanty and beginning life As a water c... »

Carl Hamblin By Edgar Lee Masters

Carl Hamblin By Edgar Lee Masters

Carl Hamblin The press of the Spoon River Clarion was wrecked, And I was tarred and feathered, For publishing this on the day the Anarchists were hanged in Chicago: “I saw a beautiful woman with bandaged eyes Standing on the steps of a marble temple. Great multitudes passed in front of her, Li... »

Thomas Ross, Jr. By Edgar Lee Masters

Thomas Ross, Jr. By Edgar Lee Masters

Thomas Ross, Jr. This I saw with my own eyes: A cliff-swallow Made her nest in a hole of the high clay-bank There near Miller’s Ford. But no sooner were the young hatched Than a snake crawled up to the nest To devour the brood. Then the mother swallow with swift flutterings And shrill cries Fo... »

Oscar Hummel By Edgar Lee Masters

Oscar Hummel By Edgar Lee Masters

Oscar Hummel I staggered on through darkness, There was a hazy sky, a few stars Which I followed as best I could. It was nine o’clock, I was trying to get home. But somehow I was lost, Though really keeping the road. Then I reeled through a gate and into a yard, And called at the top of my voi... »

Fletcher Mcgee By Edgar Lee Masters

Fletcher Mcgee By Edgar Lee Masters

Fletcher Mcgee She took my strength by minutes, She took my life by hours, She drained me like a fevered moon That saps the spinning world. The days went by like shadows, The minutes wheeled like stars. She took pity from my heart, And made it into smiles. She was a hunk of sculptor’s clay, My... »

Anthony Findlay By Edgar Lee Masters

Anthony Findlay By Edgar Lee Masters

Anthony Findlay Both for the country and for the man, And for a country as well as a man, ‘Tis better to be feared than loved. And if this country would rather part With the friendship of every nation Than surrender its wealth, I say of a man ’tis worse to lose Money than friends. And I ... »

Serepta Mason By Edgar Lee Masters

Serepta Mason By Edgar Lee Masters

Serepta Mason My life’s blossom might have bloomed on all sides Save for a bitter wind which stunted my petals On the side of me which you in the village could see. From the dust I lift a voice of protest: My flowering side you never saw! Ye living ones, ye are fools indeed Who do not know the... »

Marie Bateson By Edgar Lee Masters

Marie Bateson By Edgar Lee Masters

Marie Bateson You observe the carven hand With the index finger pointing heavenward. That is the direction, no doubt. But how shall one follow it? It is well to abstain from murder and lust, To forgive, do good to others, worship God Without graven images. But these are external means after all By w... »

Dora Williams By Edgar Lee Masters

Dora Williams By Edgar Lee Masters

Dora Williams When Reuben Pantier ran away and threw me I went to Springfield. There I met a lush, Whose father just deceased left him a fortune. He married me when drunk. My life was wretched. A year passed and one day they found him dead. That made me rich. I moved on to Chicago. After a time met ... »

Ace Shaw By Edgar Lee Masters

Ace Shaw By Edgar Lee Masters

Ace Shaw I never saw any difference Between playing cards for money And selling real estate, Practicing law, banking, or anything else. For everything is chance. Nevertheless Seest thou a man diligent in business? He shall stand before Kings! Hits: 2 »

William And Emily By Edgar Lee Masters

William And Emily By Edgar Lee Masters

William And Emily There is something about Death Like love itself! If with some one with whom you have known passion, And the glow of youthful love, You also, after years of life Together, feel the sinking of the fire, And thus fade away together, Gradually, faintly, delicately, As it were in each o... »

Rosie Roberts By Edgar Lee Masters

Rosie Roberts By Edgar Lee Masters

Rosie Roberts I was sick, but more than that, I was mad At the crooked police, and the crooked game of life. So I wrote to the Chief of Police at Peoria: “I am here in my girlhood home in Spoon River, Gradually wasting away. But come and take me, I killed the son Of the merchant prince, in Mad... »

John Cabanis By Edgar Lee Masters

John Cabanis By Edgar Lee Masters

John Cabanis Neither spite, fellow citizens, Nor forgetfulness of the shiftlessness, And the lawlessness and waste Under democracy’s rule in Spoon River Made me desert the party of law and order And lead the liberal party. Fellow citizens! I saw as one with second sight That every man of the m... »

Barney Hainsfeather By Edgar Lee Masters

Barney Hainsfeather By Edgar Lee Masters

Barney Hainsfeather If the excursion train to Peoria Had just been wrecked, I might have escaped with my life — Certainly I should have escaped this place. But as it was burned as well, they mistook me For John Allen who was sent to the Hebrew Cemetery At Chicago, And John for me, so I lie her... »

Theodore The Poet By Edgar Lee Masters

Theodore The Poet By Edgar Lee Masters

Theodore The Poet As a boy, Theodore, you sat for long hours On the shore of the turbid Spoon With deep-set eye staring at the door of the crawfish’s burrow, Waiting for him to appear, pushing ahead, First his waving antennae, like straws of hay, And soon his body, colored like soap-stone, Gem... »

On A Bust By Edgar Lee Masters

On A Bust By Edgar Lee Masters

On A Bust A giant as we hoped, in truth, a dwarf; A barrel of slop that shines on Lethe’s wharf’, Which at first seemed a vessel with sweet wine For thirsty lips. So down the swift decline You went through sloven spirit, craven heart And cynic indolence. And here the art Of molding clay ... »

Fiddler Jones By Edgar Lee Masters

Fiddler Jones By Edgar Lee Masters

Fiddler Jones The earth keeps some vibration going There in your heart, and that is you. And if the people find you can fiddle, Why, fiddle you must, for all your life. What do you see, a harvest of clover? Or a meadow to walk through to the river? The wind’s in the corn; you rub your hands Fo... »

Andy The Night-Watch By Edgar Lee Masters

Andy The Night-Watch By Edgar Lee Masters

Andy The Night-Watch In my Spanish cloak, And old slouch hat, And overshoes of felt, And Tyke, my faithful dog, And my knotted hickory cane, I slipped about with a bull’s-eye lantern From door to door on the square, As the midnight stars wheeled round, And the bell in the steeple murmured From... »

Seth Compton By Edgar Lee Masters

Seth Compton By Edgar Lee Masters

Seth Compton When I died, the circulating library Which I built up for Spoon River, And managed for the good of inquiring minds, Was sold at auction on the public square, As if to destroy the last vestige Of my memory and influence. For those of you who could not see the virtue Of knowing VolneyR... »

Lucinda Matlock By Edgar Lee Masters

Lucinda Matlock By Edgar Lee Masters

Lucinda Matlock I went to the dances at Chandlerville, And played snap-out at Winchester. One time we changed partners, Driving home in the midnight of middle June, And then I found Davis. We were married and lived together for seventy years, Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children, Eight of ... »

Doc Hill By Edgar Lee Masters

Doc Hill By Edgar Lee Masters

Doc Hill I went up and down the streets Here and there by day and night, Through all hours of the night caring for the poor who were sick. Do you know why? My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs. And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them. Sweet it was to see the crowds about the l... »

Alfred Moir By Edgar Lee Masters

Alfred Moir By Edgar Lee Masters

Alfred Moir Why was I not devoured by self-contempt, And rotted down by indifference And impotent revolt like Indignation Jones? Why, with all of my errant steps Did I miss the fate of Willard Fluke? And why, though I stood at Burchard’s bar, As a sort of decoy for the house to the boys To buy... »

William H. Herndon By Edgar Lee Masters

William H. Herndon By Edgar Lee Masters

William H. Herndon There by the window in the old house Perched on the bluff, overlooking miles of valley, My days of labor closed, sitting out life’s decline, Day by day did I look in my memory, As one who gazes in an enchantress’ crystal globe, And I saw the figures of the past, As if ... »

Roger Heston By Edgar Lee Masters

Roger Heston By Edgar Lee Masters

Roger Heston Oh many times did Ernest Hyde and I Argue about the freedom of the will. My favorite metaphor was Prickett’s cow Roped out to grass, and free you know as far As the length of the rope. One day while arguing so, watching the cow Pull at the rope to get beyond the circle Which she h... »

John Ballard By Edgar Lee Masters

John Ballard By Edgar Lee Masters

John Ballard In the lust of my strength I cursed God, but he paid no attention to me: I might as well have cursed the stars. In my last sickness I was in agony, but I was resolute And I cursed God for my suffering; Still He paid no attention to me; He left me alone, as He had always done. I might as... »

Banner Of Men Who Were Free By Edgar Lee Masters

Banner Of Men Who Were Free By Edgar Lee Masters

Banner Of Men Who Were Free Flag of the great republic, banner of men who were free! Carried aloft for freedom in many a bloody gorge; Torn by the shot of tyrants in battle by land and sea, The rallying hope of our fathers by Valley Forge. But what is it but a rag, save it emblem the higher law? Str... »

The Village Atheist By Edgar Lee Masters

The Village Atheist By Edgar Lee Masters

The Village Atheist Ye young debaters over the doctrine Of the soul’s immortality I who lie here was the village atheist, Talkative, contentious, versed in the arguments Of the infidels. But through a long sickness Coughing myself to death I read the Upanishads and the poetry of Jesus. And the... »

Nellie Clark By Edgar Lee Masters

Nellie Clark By Edgar Lee Masters

Nellie Clark I was only eight years old; And before I grew up and knew what it meant I had no words for it, except That I was frightened and told my Mother; And that my Father got a pistol And would have killed Charlie, who was a big boy, Fifteen years old, except for his Mother. Nevertheless the st... »

Faith Matheny By Edgar Lee Masters

Faith Matheny By Edgar Lee Masters

Faith Matheny At first you will know not what they mean, And you may never know, And we may never tell you: — These sudden flashes in your soul, Like lambent lightning on snowy clouds At midnight when the moon is full. They come in solitude, or perhaps You sit with your friend, and all at once... »

Ami Green By Edgar Lee Masters

Ami Green By Edgar Lee Masters

Ami Green Not “a youth with hoary head and haggard eye,” But an old man with a smooth skin And black hair! I had the face of a boy as long as I lived, And for years a soul that was stiff and bent, In a world which saw me just as a jest, To be hailed familiarly when it chose, And loaded u... »