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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Spoon River sampler

“How shall the soul of a man be larger than the life he has lived?”  Edgar Lee Masters

Masters wrote 12 plays, 6 novels, 6 biographies and an amazing 21 books of poetry.  Among his works were Songs and Satires, Spleen,  Lincoln: The Man, and Illinois Poems.

An attorney first, he practiced with Clarence Darrow in Chicago and was well-known as a defender of the poor and downtrodden.  But writing was his passion and while he wrote many, many acclaimed works, his best-known grew out of his growing-up years in Lewiston, IL.  The culture around Lewistown, in addition to the town's cemetery at Oak Hill, and the nearby Spoon River were the inspirations for many of his works, most notably the Spoon River Anthology which was built on tales about the people there. 

Today, for Saturday’s Poem, is one of the 260 poems in Spoon River, from the viewpoint of the  farmer,
                     Abel Melveny
I bought every kind of machine that's known --
Grinders, shellers, planters, mowers,
Mills and rakes and ploughs and threshers --
And all of them stood in the rain and sun,
Getting rusted, warped and battered,
For I had no sheds to store them in,
And no use for most of them.
And toward the last, when I thought it over,
There by my window, growing clearer
About myself, as my pulse slowed down,
And looked at one of the mills I bought --
Which I didn't have the slightest need of,
As things turned out, and I never ran --
A fine machine, once brightly varnished,
And eager to do its work,
Now with its paint washed off --
I saw myself as a good machine
That Life had never used.

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