Thursday, December 3, 2009

Spoon River Anthology (3).

Edgar Lee Masters. New York: Collier Books. A Division of Macmillan Publishers Co. 1915.

Why read it? Epitaphs in poetic form. Concise. Cryptic. Subtle. Often bitter. From the grave, the characters summarize their lives. Each poem is a potential short story.

“Mrs. Meyers.” Wife’s point of view of the doctor is that he was sunk in sin to begin with and that his aid to Minerva Jones was just one more sin. Self-righteous woman. Puritan in her soul. p. 47.

“ ‘Butch’ Weldy.” Blown up, made blind by a fellow worker’s mistake—Judge rules he is entitled to no compensation. p. 48.

Knowlt Hoheimer.” Soldier killed in a foreign war doesn’t know why he died. Doesn’t know the meaning of the words “pro patria.” p. 49.

Lydia Puckett.” A woman is the real reason Knowlt Hoheimenr ran away to be a soldier. “Back of every soldier is a woman.” p. 50.

“Frank Drummer.” The village fool wasn’t. His mind deteriorated as he tried to learn everything by memorizing the Encyclopedia Britannica. The inarticulateness of one who tries to learn too much. p. 51.

“Hare Drummer.” Memories of autumns past and the gaiety of the young people. p. 52.

“Conrad Siever.” He is buried where it counts. He won’t be fertilizer for grass that no flocks will eat in the graveyard. He is buried under the apple tree that he had raised and pruned. He will help to make redder apples. p. 53.

“Doc Hill.” The doctor, estranged from his family, turns his energy and efforts to help the poor. He is pleased that they all turned out for his funeral. But he is touched by the tears of his mistress. p. 54.

“Andy the Night Watch.” The Night Watch remembers the nights when only he, his dog and Doc Hill were out. Now both are where no night watch is needed. p. 55.

“Sarah Brown.” Sarah’s love for both her husband and her lover helped her to peace, and today she rests in eternal peace. “There is no marriage in heaven/ But there is love.” p. 56.

To be continued.

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