Emily Sparks, by Edgar Lee Masters
The Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of epitaphs of all the dead of the fictitious town of Spoon River, Illinois. It’s an unusual, and unusually popular, book of poetry. The combination of all of the personal and impersonal voices of the dead paints a moving and complex picture of the passions and secrets of small-town life that is as much drama as it is poetry.
Here is a poem from the Anthology:
by Edgar Lee Masters
WHERE is my boy, my boy—
In what far part of the world?
The boy I loved best of all in the school?—
I, the teacher, the old maid, the virgin heart,
Who made them all my children.
Did I know my boy aright,
Thinking of him as spirit aflame,
Active, ever aspiring?
Oh, boy, boy, for whom I prayed and prayed
In many a watchful hour at night,
Do you remember the letter I wrote you
Of the beautiful love of Christ?
And whether you ever took it or not,
My boy, wherever you are,
Work for your soul’s sake,
That all the clay of you, all of the dross of you,
May yield to the fire of you,
Till the fire is nothing but light!…
Nothing but light!
Here is a recording of the author reading the poem.