Excerpts from Edgar Lee Masters(TM) Spoon River Anthologies

This includes the introduction “The Hill” and the first six characters from the work.


      Armstrong, Hannah
      Arnett, Harold
      Atherton, Lucius

      Ballard, John
      Barker, Amanda
      Barrett, Pauline


Hannah Armstrong

  I WROTE him a letter asking him for old times, sake
  To discharge my sick boy from the army;
  But maybe he couldn't read it.
  Then I went to town and had James Garber


Harold Arnett

  I LEANED against the mantel, sick, sick,
  Thinking of my failure, looking into the abysm,
  Weak from the noon-day heat.
  A church bell sounded mournfully far away,

Lucius Atherton

  WHEN my moustache curled,
  And my hair was black,
  And I wore tight trousers
  And a diamond stud,
  I was an excellent knave of hearts and took many a trick.

Amanda Barker

  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.


 “The Hill” , the first of the anthologies serves as the introduction to the work.

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 a 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 the search for heart's desire;
  One after life in far-away 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 Isaac and Aunt Emily,
  And old Towny Kincaid and Sevigne Houghton,
  And Major Walker who had talked
  With venerable 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 of long ago at Clary's Grove,
  Of what Abe Lincoln said
  One time at Springfield.

John Ballard

  IN the lust of my strength
  I cursed God, but he paid no attention to me:
  I might as well have cursed the stars.
  In my last sickness I was in agony, ...more

Pauline Barrett

  ALMOST the shell of a woman after the surgeon's knife
  And almost a year to creep back into strength,...more

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