Seth Compton

Original Text: 
Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology, illustrated by Oliver Herford (London: T. Werner Laurie, [1916]): 176. 8-NBI Masters New York Public Library
1When I died, the circulating library
2Which I built up for Spoon River,
3And managed for the good of inquiring minds,
4Was sold at auction on the public square,
5As if to destroy the last vestige
6Of my memory and influence.
7For those of you who could not see the virtue
10Were really the power in the village,
11And often you asked me,
12"What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?"
13I am out of your way now, Spoon River,
14Choose your own good and call it good.
15For I could never make you see
16That no one knows what is good
17Who knows not what is evil;
18And no one knows what is true
19Who knows not what is false.


8] The Ruins, or Meditations on the Revolutions of Empires (1791) by Constantin Francois Volney (1757-1820), a free-thinking study; and Analogy of Religion (1736) by Joseph Butler (1692-1752). Back to Line
9] Goethe's Faust (1834) and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Evangeline (1847): poems about, respectively, boundless ambition and unhappy love. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: