Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist. He is the author of Spoon River Anthology, The New Star Chamber and Other Essays, Songs and Satires, The Great Valley, The Serpent in the Wilderness An Obscure Tale, The Spleen, Mark Twain: A Portrait, Lincoln: The Man, and Illinois Poems.. American poet biographer and dramatist
Observe the clasped hands!
Are they hands of farewell or greeting,
Hands that I helped or hands that helped me?
Would it not be well to carve a hand
With an inverted thumb, like Elagabalus?
And yonder is a broken chain,
The weakest-link idea perhaps --
But what was it?
And lambs, some lying down,
Others standing, as if listening to the shepherd --
Others bearing a cross, one foot lifted up --
Why not chisel a few shambles?
And fallen columns! Carve the pedestal, please,
Or the foundations; let us see the cause of the fall.
And compasses and mathematical instruments,
In irony of the under tenants' ignorance
Of determinants and the calculus of variations.
And anchors, for those who never sailed.
And gates ajar -- yes, so they were;
You left them open and stray goats entered your garden.
And an eye watching like one of the Arimaspi --
So did you -- with one eye.
And angels blowing trumpets -- you are heralded --
It is your horn and your angel and your family's estimate.
It is all very well, but for myself I know
I stirred certain vibrations in Spoon River
Which are my true epitaph, more lasting than stone.