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Toward the Gulf   By: (1868-1950)

Book cover

First Page:

TOWARD THE GULF

BY

EDGAR LEE MASTERS

CONTENTS

TOWARD THE GULF THE LAKE BOATS CITIES OF THE PLAIN EXCLUDED MIDDLE SAMUEL BUTLER, ET AL JOHNNY APPLESEED THE LOOM DIALOGUE AT PERKO'S SIR GALAHAD ST. DESERET HEAVEN IS BUT THE HOUR VICTOR RAFOLSKI ON ART THE LANDSCAPE TO MORROW IS MY BIRTHDAY SWEET CLOVER SOMETHING BEYOND THE HILL FRONT THE AGES WITH A SMILE POOR PIERROT MIRAGE OF THE DESERT DAHLIAS THE GRAND RIVER MARSHES DELILAH THE WORLD SAVER RECESSIONAL THE AWAKENING IN THE GARDEN AT THE DAWN HOUR FRANCE BERTRAND AND GOURGAUD TALK OVER OLD TIMES DRAW THE SWORD, O REPUBLIC DEAR OLD DICK THE ROOM OF MIRRORS THE LETTER CANTICLE OF THE RACE BLACK EAGLE RETURNS TO ST. JOE MY LIGHT WITH YOURS THE BLIND "I PAY MY DEBT FOR LAFAYETTE AND ROCHAMBEAU" CHRISTMAS AT INDIAN POINT WIDOW LA RUE DR. SCUDDER'S CLINICAL LECTURE FRIAR YVES THE EIGHTH CRUSADE THE BISHOP'S DREAM OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE NEANDERTHAL THE END OF THE SEARCH BOTANICAL GARDENS

TO WILLIAM MARION REEDY

It would have been fitting had I dedicated Spoon River Anthology to you. Considerations of an intimate nature, not to mention a literary encouragement which was before yours, crowded you from the page. Yet you know that it was you who pressed upon my attention in June, 1909, the Greek Anthology. It was from contemplation of its epitaphs that my hand unconsciously strayed to the sketches of "Hod Putt," "Serepta The Scold" ("Serepta Mason" in the book), "Amanda Barker" ("Amanda" in the book), "Ollie McGee" and "The Unknown," the first written and the first printed sketches of The Spoon River Anthology. The Mirror of May 29th, 1914, is their record.

I take one of the epigrams of Meleager with its sad revealment and touch of irony and turn it from its prose form to a verse form, making verses according to the breath pauses:

"The holy night and thou, O Lamp, we took as witness of our vows; and before thee we swore, he that would love me always and I that I would never leave him. We swore, and thou wert witness of our double promise. But now he says that our vows were written on the running waters. And thou, O Lamp, thou seest him in the arms of another."

In verse this epigram is as follows:

The holy night and thou, O Lamp, We took as witness of our vows; And before thee we swore, He that would love me always And I that I would never leave him. We swore, And thou wert witness of our double promise. But now he says that our vows were written on the running waters. And thou, O Lamp, Thou seest him in the arms of another.

It will be observed that iambic feet prevail in this translation. They merely become noticeable and imperative when arranged in verses. But so it is, even in the briefest and starkest rendering of these epigrams from the Greek the humanism and dignity of the original transfer themselves, making something, if less than verse, yet more than prose; as Byron said of Sheridan's speeches, neither poetry nor oratory, but better than either. It was no difficult matter to pass from Chase Henry:

"In life I was the town drunkard. When I died the priest denied me burial In holy ground, etc."

to the use of standard measures, or rhythmical arrangements of iambics or what not, and so to make a book, which for the first third required a practiced voice or eye to yield the semblance of verse; and for the last two thirds, or nearly so, accommodated itself to the less sensitive conception of the average reader. The prosody was allowed to take care of itself under the emotional requirements and inspiration of the moment. But there is nothing new in English literature for some hundreds of years in combinations of dactyls, anapests or trochees, and without rhyme. Nor did I discover to the world that an iambic pentameter can be lopped to a tetrameter without the verse ceasing to be an iambic; though it be no longer the blank verse which has so ennobled English poetry... Continue reading book >>




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