by Edgar Lee Masters
[from Spoon River Anthology, 1915]
At four o’clock in late October
I sat alone in the country school-house
Back from the road ‘mid stricken fields,
And an eddy of wind blew leaves on the pane,
And crooned in the flue of the cannon-stove,
With its open door blurring the shadows
With the spectral glow of a dying fire.
In an idle mood I was running the planchette–
All at once my wrist grew limp,
And my hand moved rapidly over the board,
Till the name of “Charles Guiteau” was spelled,
Who threatened to materialize before me.
I rose and fled from the room bare-headed
Into the dusk, afraid of my gift.
And after that the spirits swarmed–
Chaucer, Caesar, Poe and Marlowe,
Cleopatra and Mrs. Surrat–
Wherever I went, with messages,–
Mere trifling twaddle, Spoon River agreed.
You talk nonsense to children, don’t you?
And suppose I see what you never saw
And never heard of and have no word for,
I must talk nonsense when you ask me
What it is I see!
[To read more Spoon River Anthology click here.]