Sunday, April 11, 2010

April, National Poetry Month-Masters

April is National Poetry month. This month I decided to spend some time with some of the poets and poetry that had an effect on my life. In this posting I will be revisiting Edgar Lee Masters and his Spoon River Anthology.

I became acquainted with Masters in high school. His free form verse about the people in Spoon River reached a responsive cord in me. In some ways those stories were like reading about the small towns I grew up around.

The three people whose stories I responded to as a teen were:Dorcas Gustine, Mable Osborne and Lucinda Matlock. Each one reacted to life in such a unique way, and though each is very different, even time has not dimmed my love of their stories.

Dorcas: Her story began with the following line:
I was not beloved of the villagers,
But all because I spoke my mind,

and ended with:
The tongue may be an unruly member—
But silence poisons the soul.
Berate me who will—I am content.

In between with just a few lines is a woman who lived life on her own terms regardless of the consequences.

Mable: Her story is completely different, yet just as powerful
She starts:
Your red blossoms amid green leaves
Are drooping, beautiful geranium!
But you do not ask for water.
You cannot speak!

She ends:
Voiceless from chasteness of soul to ask you for love,
You who knew and saw me perish before you,
Like this geranium which someone has planted over me,
And left to die.

A woman who wanted so much, but failed to receive it.

Finally there is Lucinda Matlock, based on Masters own mother. Her final lines say it all:
At ninety—six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you—
It takes life to love Life.

I hope you have a chance to revisit some of the works that you enjoyed during your lifetime. Perhaps some of what I have shared will hit a responsive cord with you and send you on a search for those lines that spoke to you.

Happy reading until next time.

1 comment:

Janet Grace Riehl said...

Dear Doris,

I'm glad to read your "ramblings" on poets who've shaped your life. To have a testimonial of how poetry inspires us in everyday life is important. Poetry is not the elevated creature some fear it to be.

I hope you get a chance to browse some of my poem-of-the-day posts on Riehlife, several by members of Women Writing the West.

Janet Riehl