Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Spoon River anthology (10)

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.

Georgina Sand Miner.” Mistress to men and lesbians tries to keep up the illusion that she is not a whore. Her lover, Daniel, strips her of this illusion before all those from whom she was trying to hide it. p. 126.

“Thomas Rhodes.” The splintered soul of the liberal do-gooders vs. the self-contained and compact soul of the hoarders of earthly wealth. p. 127.

“Jim Brown.” Horse trainer’s view of society—those on the side of humanity vs. the “Social Purity Club.” p. 130.

“Elsa Wertman.” Mother of illegitimate son who was adopted by the man who seduced her and his wife. She must watch as her son becomes successful and she cannot partake in his glory. p. 132.

Hamilton Greene.” Irony. The successful son who does not know that he is a bastard. p. 133.

“Ernest Hyde.” “The mind sees the world as a thing apart,/ And the soul makes the world at one with itself.” p. 134.

“Roger Heston.” Metaphor for lack of free will. The roped-in cow—free to a point. Then he pulls up the stake and she gores him, Roger Heston. God, something, or somebody sets the limits. p. 135.

“Amos Sibley.” Preacher saddled with an adulterous wife tires to find a way to be successful in some other profession so that he can divorce her. He is unsuccessful, so a preacher he remains—married to an adulterous wife whom he despises. p. 136.

“Mrs. Sibley.” In death, buried where no one can find her. The adulterous, sensitive wife is now hidden away from her compulsion. p. 137.

“Adam Weifauch.” Political ingratitude. Fighting for principle, he goes unrewarded while others are rewarded. Finally, he accepts politics as a means to personal gain—and he is caught. Who or what has caused his ruin? p. 138.

“Ezra Bartlett.” The love of women and wine are but steps on the way to the love of God. The soul uses stimulants to love until it can love by itself without stimulants. p. 139.

To be continued.

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