Monday, May 5, 2008

Spoon River Anthology

Book of the Week: Spoon River Anthology, by Edgar Lee Masters. The book is a collection of poetry, written as epitaphs by those who lie at rest in the Spoon River graveyard. The dead reveal many haunting and sorrowful secrets. The poetry is darkly fascinating. It is intriguing to see how the stories intertwine. I throughly recommend the book.

The poem I post today, "64. George Gray," was one I first heard in English in eighth grade. The poem stuck with me and several years later I found the book the poem had been pulled from. The poem still strikes me powerfully. I hope you like it.

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950). Spoon River Anthology. 1916.

64. George Gray

I HAVE studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me—
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life. 5
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail 10
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire— 15
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.

No comments: