43. Dorcas Gustine
by Edgar Lee Masters
Spoon River Anthology
I was not beloved of the villagers,
But all because I spoke my mind,
And met those who transgressed against me
With plain remonstrance, hiding nor nurturing
Nor secret griefs nor grudges.
That act of the Spartan boy is greatly praised,
Who hid the wolf under his cloak,
Letting it devour him, uncomplainingly.
It is braver, I think, to snatch the wolf forth
And fight him openly in the street,
Amidst dust and howls of pain.
The tongue may be an unruly member –
But silence poisons the soul.
Berate me who will. I am content.
I was at the dentist yesterday, waiting for some unfortunate dental work to be performed and picked up the Star Tribune in the waiting room. In the variety section was a small side bar about a man who returned a library book to the Shreve Memorial Library in Shreveport, Louisiana that his mother had checked out in 1934, 84 years ago when she was 11 years old. Although he was not required to do so, he paid the fine of 0.05 a day for a total of $1,542.65 as a fitting memorial to his Mother who loved literature and support of the library that she had used as a child.
Spoon River Anthology, Edgar Lee Masters masterpiece about the residents of the graveyard in Spoon River, was controversial when it was published for his unvarnished fictional accounts of the dead speaking their own eulogies in a small Midwestern town. It is a curious thing to consider, writing one’s own eulogy and leaving out the flattery. Maybe that’s what poet’s do, one line at a time.