That act of the Spartan boy is greatly praised, Who hid the wolf under his cloak, Letting it devour him, uncomplainingly. Sometimes a man's life turns into a cancer From being bruised and continually bruised, And swells into a purplish mass Like growths on stalks of corn. But two of the children thought he was right, And two of the children thought I was right. In all this place of silence There are no kindred spirits. But that's not the reason he turned a soldier.
Speaking without reason to lie or fear the consequences, they construct a picture of life in their town that is shorn of pretense. All through the soul of William Jones Who showed me a letter of John Muir. And l, who went to all the funerals Held in Spoon River, swear I never Saw a dead face without thinking it looked Like something washed and ironed. But what did he do but send me along The path that leads to the grove of the Furies? But a man can never avenge himself On the monstrous ogre Life. And we-- we married ones All broke our vows, myself among the rest. But ye infinite brood of golden eagles nesting ever higher, Wheeling ever higher, the sun-- light wooing Of lofty places of Thought, Forgive the blindness of the departed owl. And all the men loved him, And most of the women pitied him.
It was the falling asunder of halves, Never a part of each other, That left me a lifeless soul. In my youth therefore I entered the portals of dust. And out in the cold stood all my followers: Young idealists, broken warriors Hobbling on one crutch of hope-- Souls that staked their all on the truth, Losers of worlds at heaven's bidding, Watching the Devil kick the Millennium Over the Golden Mountain. He caught me running with Lucius Atherton. Their spirits watched my ecstasy With wide looks of starry unconcern. How I wish Duse could stand amid the pathos Of these quiet fields And read these words.
But when we came to the proof, A survey of the land showed clear as day That Dallman's tax deed covered my ground And my little house of two rooms. There I met a lush, Whose father just deceased left him a fortune. Wilmans, Harry Witt, Zenas Yee Bow Zoll, Perry The Hill Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom and Charley, The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter? And that the growing tree at last Sundered the iron band? But now that my grave is honored, friends, Let it not be because I taught The lore of the stars in Knox College, But rather for this: that through the stars I preached the greatness of man, Who is none the less a part of the scheme of things For the distance of Spica or the Spiral Nebulae; Nor any the less a part of the question Of what the drama means. But I tortured it, I poisoned it I blinded its eyes, and it became hatred-- Deadly ivy instead of clematis. From the solace of that hour I have gained infinite happiness.
The shelters of friendship knew my cunning For where I could steal a friend I did so. Then he stole the hogs and went to the war-- Back of every soldier is a woman. And Daniel despised her midget husband. I died on my feet, Facing the silence--facing the prospect That no one would know of the fight I made. And we-- we married ones All broke our vows, myself among the rest.
Killion, Captain Orlando Kincaid, Russell King, Lyman Knapp, Nancy Konovaloff, Ippolit Kritt, Dow Layton, Henry M'Cumber, Daniel McDowell, Rutherford McFarlane, Widow McGee, Fletcher McGee, Ollie M'Grew, Jennie M'Grew, Mickey McGuire, Jack McNeely, Mary McNeely, Washington Malloy, Father Many Soldiers Marsh, Zilpha Marshall, Herbert Mason, Serepta Matheny, Faith Matlock, Davis Matlock, Lucinda Melveny, Abel Merritt, Mrs. I, full of spirit, audacity, courage Thrown into life here in Spoon River, With its dominant forces drawn from New England, Republicans, Calvinists, merchants, bankers, Hating me, yet fearing my arm. And all were torn with the guilt of judging, And tortured in soul because they could not admire Equally him and me. It was the vision, vision, vision of the poets Democratized! I awoke one morning with the love of God Brimming over my heart, so I went to see Richard To settle the fence in the spirit of Jesus Christ. I thought over the last letter written me By that estranged young soul Whose betrayal of me I had concealed By marrying the old man. Meanwhile friend of the great, and lover of letters, And host to Matthew Arnold and to Emerson. Their spirits looked upon my torture; They drank it as it were the water of life; With reddened cheeks, brightened eyes, The rising flame of my soul made their spirits gilt, Like the wings of a butterfly drifting suddenly into sunlight.
The inner kernel is freedom, It is light, purity-- I can no more, Find the goal or lose it, according to your vision. But who should step out but A. But here is a joke of cosmic size: The urge of nature that made a man Evolve from his brain a spiritual life-- Oh miracle of the world! Do you remember when I stood on the steps Of the Court House and talked free-silver, And the single-tax of Henry George? And no mother would let her baby suck Diseased milk from her breast. All were gone, or broken-winged or devoured by life-- I sat under my cedar tree. You saw me only as a run-down man With matted hair and beard And ragged clothes. And cried and cried as my secret began to show.
Poi presi la morfina e sedetti a leggere. Dear Emily Sparks, let me tell you the story. The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands For beeves hereafter ready for market; Or else you hear the rustle of skirts Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove. Have you seen the stabled horses at night Tremble and start back at the sight of a lantern? At Thompson's Lake the trigger of my gun Caught in the side of the boat And a great hole was shot through my heart. I was healthy, happy, in comfortable fortune, Blest with a congenial mate, my children raised, All wedded, doing well in the world. Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River. And I but a shell of myself.
I thought it due me, to recoup the money I lost And to make good the friends that left me, For the Governor to appoint me Canal Commissioner. And we never had any peace with our treasure. The deceased residents of Spoon River, Illinois, reflect on their lives, recounting their stories from beyond the grave. That is my husband who, by secret cruelty Never to be told, robbed me of my youth and my beauty; Till at last, wrinkled and with yellow teeth, And with broken pride and shameful humility, I sank into the grave. And there, though my own memories Were too great to bear, were you, O pioneers, With bowed heads breathing forth your sorrow For the sons killed in battle and the daughters And little children who vanished in life's morning, Or at the intolerable hour of noon. But in taking life for myself, In seizing and crushing their souls, As a child crushes grapes and drinks From its palms the purple juice, I came to this wingless void, Where neither red, nor gold, nor wine, Nor the rhythm of life are known.