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Edgar Lee Masters Short Poems

Famous Short Edgar Lee Masters Poems. Short poetry by famous poet Edgar Lee Masters. A collection of the all-time best Edgar Lee Masters short poems


by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 had eaten bare, Out came the stake, and tossing up her head, She ran for us.
"What's that, free-will or what?" said Ernest, running.
I fell just as she gored me to my death.



by Edgar Lee Masters
 Out of me unworthy and unknown 
The vibrations of deathless music; 
'With malice toward none, with charity for all.
' Out of me the forgiveness of millions toward millions, And the beneficient face of a nation Shining with justice and truth.
I am Anne Rutledge who sleep beneath these weeds, Beloved in life of Abraham Lincoln, Wedded to him, not through union, But through separation.
Bloom forever, O Republic, From the dust of my bosom!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 My name used to be in the papers daily
As having dined somewhere,
Or traveled somewhere,
Or rented a house in Paris,
Where I entertained the nobility.
I was forever eating or traveling, Or taking the cure at Baden-Baden.
Now I am here to do honor To Spoon River, here beside the family whence I sprang.
No one cares now where I dined, Or lived, or whom I entertained, Or how often I took the cure at Baden-Baden!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 In youth my wings were strong and tireless,
But I did not know the mountains.
In age I knew the mountains But my weary wings could not follow my vision -- Genius is wisdom and youth.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 Out of a cell into this darkened space --
The end at twenty-five!
My tongue could not speak what stirred within me,
And the village thought me a fool.
Yet at the start there was a clear vision, A high and urgent purpose in my soul Which drove me on trying to memorize The Encyclopedia Britannica!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 Henry got me with child, 
Knowing that I could not bring forth life 
Without losing my own.
In my youth therefore I entered the portals of dust.
Traveler, it is believed in the village where I lived That Henry loved me with a husband's love, But I proclaim from the dust That he slew me to gratify his hatred.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 In my life I was the town drunkard; 
When I died the priest denied me burial 
In holy ground.
The which rebounded to my good fortune.
For the Protestants bought this lot, And buried my body here, Close to the grave of the banker Nicholas, And of his wife Priscilla.
Take note, ye prudent and pious souls, Of the cross-currents in life Which bring honor to the dead, who lived in shame.



by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 he stole the hogs and went to the war -- Back of every soldier is a woman.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 I belonged to the church,
And to the party of prohibition;
And the villagers thought I died of eating watermelon.
In truth I had cirrhosis of the liver, For every noon for thirty years, I slipped behind the prescription partition In Trainor's drug store And poured a generous drink From the bottle marked "Spiritus frumenti.
"

by Edgar Lee Masters
 You praise my self-sacrifice, Spoon River, 
In rearing Irene and Mary, 
Orphans of my older sister! 
And you censure Irene and Mary 
For their contempt of me! 
But praise not my self-sacrifice, 
And censure not their contempt; 
I reared them, I cared for them, true enough!-- 
But I poisoned my benefactions 
With constant reminders of their dependence.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 ways of the wind And the unseen forces That govern the processes of life.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 minister's son, caved my ribs into my lungs, With a blow of his fist.
Now I shall never sleep with my ancestors in Pekin, And no children shall worship at my grave.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 Have you seen walking through the village
A man with downcast eyes and haggard face?
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.
But what think you gnaws at my husband's heart? The face of what I was, the face of what he made me! These are driving him to the place where I lie.
In death, therefore, I am avenged.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 This is Darrow, 
Inadequately scrawled, with his young, old heart, 
And his drawl, and his infinite paradox 
And his sadness, and kindness, 
And his artist sense that drives him to shape his life 
To something harmonious, even against the schemes of God.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 Why did Albert Schirding kill himself
Trying to be County Superintendent of Schools,
Blest as he was with the means of life
And wonderful children, bringing him honor
Ere he was sixty?
If even one of my boys could have run a news-stand,
Or one of my girls could have married a decent man,
I should not have walked in the rain
And jumped into bed with clothes all wet,
Refusing medical aid.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 here.
It was bad enough to run a clothing store in this town, But to be buried here -- ach!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 I preached four thousand sermons,
I conducted forty revivals,
And baptized many converts.
Yet no deed of mine Shines brighter in the memory of the world, And none is treasured more by me: Look how I saved the Blisses from divorce, And kept the children free from that disgrace, To grow up into moral men and women, Happy themselves, a credit to the village.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 I am Minerva, the village poetess,
Hooted at, jeered at by the Yahoos of the street
For my heavy body, cock-eye, and rolling walk,
And all the more when "Butch" Weldy
Captured me after a brutal hunt.
He left me to my fate with Doctor Meyers; And I sank into death, growing numb from the feet up, Like one stepping deeper and deeper into a stream of ice.
Will some one go to the village newspaper, And gather into a book the verses I wrote? -- I thirsted so for love! I hungered so for life!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 I ran away from home with the circus,
Having fallen in love with Mademoiselle Estralada,
The lion tamer.
One time, having starved the lions For more than a day, I entered the cage and began to beat Brutus And Leo and Gypsy.
Whereupon Brutus sprang upon me, And killed me.
On entering these regions I met a shadow who cursed me, And said it served me right.
.
.
.
It was Robespierre!

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 which you chiefly do good to yourself.
The inner kernel is freedom, It is light, purity -- I can no more, Find the goal or lose it, according to your vision.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 This weeping willow!
Why do you not plant a few
For the millions of children not yet born,
As well as for us?
Are they not non-existent, or cells asleep
Without mind?
Or do they come to earth, their birth
Rupturing the memory of previous being?
Answer! The field of unexplored intuition is yours.
But in any case why not plant willows for them, As well as for us?

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 each other: He oxygen, she hydrogen, Their son, a devastating fire.
I Trainor, the druggist, a mixer of chemicals, Killed while making an experiment, Lived unwedded.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 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 up as a man when it chose,
Being neither man nor boy.
In truth it was soul as well as body Which never matured, and I say to you That the much-sought prize of eternal youth Is just arrested growth.

by Edgar Lee Masters
 If you in the village think that my work was a good one,
Who closed the saloons and stopped all playing at cards,
And haled old Daisy Fraser before Justice Arnett,
In many a crusade to purge the people of sin;
Why do you let the milliner's daughter Dora,
And the worthless son of Benjamin Pantier,
Nightly make my grave their unholy pillow?