Rutherford McDowell

Original Text: 
Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology, illustrated by Oliver Herford (London: T. Werner Laurie, [1916]): 228. 8-NBI Masters New York Public Library
2Of the old pioneers to enlarge.
3And sometimes one sat for me --
4Some one who was in being
5When giant hands from the womb of the world
6Tore the republic.
7What was it in their eyes? --
8For I could never fathom
9That mystical pathos of drooped eyelids,
10And the serene sorrow of their eyes.
11It was like a pool of water,
12Amid oak trees at the edge of a forest,
13Where the leaves fall,
14As you hear the crow of a cock
15From a far-off farm house, seen near the hills
16Where the third generation lives, and the strong men
17And the strong women are gone and forgotten.
18And these grand-children and great grand-children
19Of the pioneers!
20Truly did my camera record their faces, too,
21With so much of the old strength gone,
22And the old faith gone,
23And the old mastery of life gone,
24And the old courage gone,
25Which labors and loves and suffers and sings
26Under the sun!


1] ambrotypes: positive pictures made from a photographic negative on glass over a dark surface. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: