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Best Famous Edgar Lee Masters Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Edgar Lee Masters poems. This is a select list of the best famous Edgar Lee Masters poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Edgar Lee Masters poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Edgar Lee Masters poems.

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Written by Edgar Lee Masters | Create an image from this poem

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 lawns on the day of my funeral, And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.
But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able To hold to the railing of the new life When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree At the grave, Hiding herself, and her grief!
Written by Edgar Lee Masters | Create an image from this poem

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 Volney's "Ruins" as well as Butler's "Analogy" And "Faust" as well as "Evangeline," Were really the power in the village, And often you asked me, "What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?" I am out of your way now, Spoon River, Choose your own good and call it good.
For I could never make you see That no one knows what is good Who knows not what is evil; And no one knows what is true Who knows not what is false.
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Harry Wilmans

 I was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle's Opera House.
"The honor of the flag must be upheld," he said, "Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe of Tagalogs Or the greatest power in Europe.
" And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag he waved As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father, And followed the flag till I saw it raised By our camp in a rice field near Manila, And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things; And there was the deadly water, And the cruel heat, And the sickening, putrid food; And the smell of the trench just back of the tents Where the soldiers went to empty themselves; And there were the whores who followed us, full of syphilis; And beastly acts between ourselves or alone, With bullying, hatred, degradation among us, And days of loathing and nights of fear To the hour of the charge through the steaming swamp, Following the flag, Till I fell with a scream, shot through the guts.
Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River! A flag! A flag!
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Julia Miller

 We quarreled that morning,
For he was sixty-five, and I was thirty,
And I was nervous and heavy with the child
Whose birth I dreaded.
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.
Then I took morphine and sat down to read.
Across the blackness that came over my eyes I see the flickering light of these words even now: "And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To-day thou shalt Be with me in paradise.
"
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Lilian Stewart

 I was the daughter of Lambert Hutchins,
Born in a cottage near the grist-mill,
Reared in the mansion there on the hill,
With its spires, bay-windows, and roof of slate.
How proud my mother was of the mansion! How proud of father's rise in the world! And how my father loved and watched us, And guarded our happiness.
But I believe the house was a curse, For father's fortune was little beside it; And when my husband found he had married A girl who was really poor, He taunted me with the spires, And called the house a fraud on the world, A treacherous lure to young men, raising hopes Of a dowry not to be had; And a man while selling his vote Should get enough from the people's betrayal To wall the whole of his family in.
He vexed my life till I went back home And lived like an old maid till I died, Keeping house for father.
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Jim Brown

 While I was handling Dom Pedro
I got at the thing that divides the race between men who are
For singing "Turkey in the straw" or "There is a fountain filled with blood" --
(Like Rile Potter used to sing it over at Concord);
For cards, or for Rev.
Peet's lecture on the holy land; For skipping the light fantastic, or passing the plate; For Pinafore, or a Sunday school cantata; For men, or for money; For the people or against them.
This was it: Rev.
Peet and the Social Purity Club, Headed by Ben Pantier's wife, Went to the Village trustees, And asked them to make me take Dom Pedro From the barn of Wash McNeely, there at the edge of town, To a barn outside of the corporation, On the ground that it corrupted public morals.
Well, Ben Pantier and Fiddler Jones saved the day -- They thought it a slam on colts.
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Percival Sharp

 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.
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Mrs. Purkapile

 He ran away and was gone for a year.
When he came home he told me the silly story Of being kidnapped by pirates on Lake Michigan And kept in chains so he could not write me.
I pretended to believe it, though I knew very well What he was doing, and that he met The milliner, Mrs.
Williams, now and then When she went to the city to buy goods, as she said.
But a promise is a promise And marriage is marriage, And out of respect for my own character I refused to be drawn into a divorce By the scheme of a husband who had merely grown tired Of his marital vow and duty.
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The Hill

 Where are Elmer, Herman, Bert, Tom, and Charley,
The weak of will, the strong of arm, the clown, the boozer, the fighter?
All, all, are sleeping on the hill.
One passed in a fever, One was burned in a mine, One was killed in a brawl, One died in jail, One fell from a bridge toiling for children and wife-- All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where are Ella, Kate, Mag, Lizzie, and Edith, The tender heart, the simple soul, the loud, the proud, the happy one?-- All, all, are sleeping on the hill.
One died in shameful child-birth, One of a thwarted love, One at the hands of a brute in a brothel, One of a broken pride, in a search for a heart's desire, One after life in faraway London and Paris Was brought to her little space by Ella and Kate and Mag-- All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where are Uncle Issac and Aunt Emily, And old Towny Kincaid and Sevigne Houghton, And Major Walker who had talked With veneravle men of the revolution?-- All, all, are sleeping on the hill.
They brought them dead sons from the war, And daughters whom life had crushed, And their children fatherless, crying-- All, all are sleeping, sleeping, sleeping on the hill.
Where is old Fiddler Jones Who played with life all his ninety years, Braving the sleet with bared breast, Drinking, rioting, thinking neither of wife nor kin, Nor gold, nor love, nor heaven? Lo! he babbles of the fish-frys of long ago, Of the horse-races long ago at Clary's Grove, Of what Abe Lincoln said One time at Springfield.
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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 called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail And catch the winds of destiny Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one's life may end in madness, But life without meaning is the torture Of restlessness and vague desire -- It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
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Robert Davidson

 I grew spiritually fat living off the souls of men.
If I saw a soul that was strong I wounded its pride and devoured its strength.
The shelters of friendship knew my cunning, For where I could steal a friend I did so.
And wherever I could enlarge my power By undermining ambition, I did so, Thus to make smooth my own.
And to triumph over other souls, Just to assert and prove my superior strength, Was with me a delight, The keen exhilaration of soul gymnastics.
Devouring souls, I should have lived forever.
But their undigested remains bred in me a deadly nephritis, With fear, restlessness, sinking spirits, Hatred, suspicion, vision disturbed.
I collapsed at last with a shriek.
Remember the acorn; It does not devour other acorns.
Written by Edgar Lee Masters | Create an image from this poem

Plymouth Rock Joe

 Why are you running so fast hither and thither
Chasing midges or butterflies?
Some of you are standing solemnly scratching for grubs;
Some of you are waiting for corn to be scattered.
This is life, is it? Cock-a-doodle-do! Very well, Thomas Rhodes, You are cock of the walk, no doubt.
But here comes Elliott Hawkins, Gluck, Gluck, Gluck, attracting political followers.
Quah! quah! quah! why so poetical, Minerva, This gray morning? Kittie -- quah -- quah! for shame, Lucius Atherton, The raucous squawk you evoked from the throat Of Aner Clute will be taken up later By Mrs.
Benjamin Pantier as a cry Of votes for women: Ka dook -- dook! What inspiration has come to you, Margaret Fuller Slack? And why does your gooseberry eye Flit so liquidly, Tennessee Claflin Shope? Are you trying to fathom the esotericism of an egg? Your voice is very metallic this morning, Hortense Robbins -- Almost like a guinea hen's! Quah! That was a guttural sigh, Isaiah Beethoven; Did you see the shadow of the hawk, Or did you step upon the drumsticks Which the cook threw out this morning? Be chivalric, heroic, or aspiring, Metaphysical, religious, or rebellious, You shall never get out of the barnyard Except by way of over the fence Mixed with potato peelings and such into the trough!
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John Horace Burleson

  I won the prize essay at school
Here in the village,
And published a novel before I was twenty-five.
I went to the city for themes and to enrich my art; There married the banker’s daughter, And later became president of the bank— Always looking forward to some leisure To write an epic novel of the war.
Meanwhile friend of the great, and lover of letters, And host to Matthew Arnold and to Emerson.
An after dinner speaker, writing essays For local clubs.
At last brought here— My boyhood home, you know— Not even a little tablet in Chicago To keep my name alive.
How great it is to write the single line: “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean, roll!”
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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 in a pageant glassed by a shining dream,
Move through the incredible sphere of time.
And I saw a man arise from the soil like a fabled giant And throw himself over a deathless destiny, Master of great armies, head of the republic, Bringing together into a dithyramb of recreative song The epic hopes of a people; At the same time Vulcan of sovereign fires, Where imperishable shields and swords were beaten out From spirits tempered in heaven.
Look in the crystal! See how he hastens on To the place where his path comes up to the path Of a child of Plutarch and Shakespeare.
O Lincoln, actor indeed, playing well your part, And Booth, who strode in a mimic play within the play, Often and often I saw you, As the cawing crows winged their way to the wood Over my house-top at solemn sunsets, There by my window, Alone.
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Oaks Tutt

 My mother was for woman's rights
And my father was the rich miller at London Mills.
I dreamed of the wrongs of the world and wanted to right them.
When my father died, I set out to see peoples and countries In order to learn how to reform the world.
I traveled through many lands.
I saw the ruins of Rome, And the ruins of Athens, And the ruins of Thebes.
And I sat by moonlight amid the necropolis of Memphis.
There I was caught up by wings of flame, And a voice from heaven said to me: "Injustice, Untruth destroyed them.
Go forth! Preach Justice! Preach Truth!" And I hastened back to Spoon River To say farewell to my mother before beginning my work.
They all saw a strange light in my eye.
And by and by, when I taIked, they discovered What had come in my mind.
Then Jonathan Swift Somers challenged me to debate The subject, (I taking the negative): "Pontius Pilate, the Greatest Philosopher of the World.
" And he won the debate by saying at last, "Before you reform the world, Mr.
Tutt Please answer the question of Pontius Pilate: 'What is Truth?'"