Margaret Fuller Slack

Edgar Lee Masters. Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

46. Margaret Fuller Slack

I WOULD have been as great as George Eliot
But for an untoward fate.
For look at the photograph of me made by Penniwit,
Chin resting on hand, and deep-set eyes—
Gray, too, and far-searching.
But there was the old, old problem:
Should it be celibacy, matrimony or unchastity?
Then John Slack, the rich druggist, wooed me,
Luring me with the promise of leisure for my novel,
And I married him, giving birth to eight children,
And had no time to write.
It was all over with me, anyway,
When I ran the needle in my hand
While washing the baby’s things,
And died from lock-jaw, an ironical death.
Hear me, ambitious souls,
Sex is the curse of life!

Harold Arnett

Edgar Lee Masters. Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

46. 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,
I heard the cry of a baby,
And the coughing of John Yarnell,
Bed-ridden, feverish, feverish, dying,
Then the violent voice of my wife:
“Watch out, the potatoes are burning!”
I smelled them … then there was irresistible disgust.
I pulled the trigger … blackness … light…
Unspeakable regret … fumbling for the world again.
Too late! Thus I came here,
With lungs for breathing … one cannot breathe here with lungs,
Though one must breathe…. Of what use is it
To rid one’s self of the world,
When no soul may ever escape the eternal destiny of life?