Davis Matlock

Original Text: 
Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology, illustrated by Oliver Herford (London: T. Werner Laurie, [1916]): 231. 8-NBI Masters New York Public Library
2That there are drones and workers
3And queens, and nothing but storing honey --
4(Material things as well as culture and wisdom) --
5For the next generation, this generation never living,
6Except as it swarms in the sun-light of youth,
7Strengthening its wings on what has been gathered,
8And tasting, on the way to the hive
9From the clover field, the delicate spoil.
10Suppose all this, and suppose the truth:
11That the nature of man is greater
12Than nature's need in the hive;
13And you must bear the burden of life,
14As well as the urge from your spirit's excess --
15Well, I say to live it out like a god
16Sure of immortal life, though you are in doubt,
17Is the way to live it.
18If that doesn't make God proud of you,
19Then God is nothing but gravitation,
20Or sleep is the golden goal.


1] The poet's paternal grandfather (1812-1904), according to Masters' "The Genesis of Spoon River," The American Mercury 28 (Jan. 1933): 39. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: