Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

193. Henry Phipps

I WAS the Sunday school superintendent, 
The dummy president of the wagon works 
And the canning factory, 
Acting for Thomas Rhodes and the banking clique; 
My son the cashier of the bank,         5
Wedded to Rhodes’ daughter, 
My week days spent in making money, 
My Sundays at church and in prayer. 
In everything a cog in the wheel of things-as-they-are: 
Of money, master and man, made white  10
With the paint of the Christian creed. 
And then: 
The bank collapsed. I stood and looked at the wrecked machine— 
The wheels with blow-holes stopped with putty and painted; 
The rotten bolts, the broken rods;  15
And only the hopper for souls fit to be used again 
In a new devourer of life, when newspapers, judges and money-magicians 
Build over again. 
I was stripped to the bone, but I lay in the Rock of Ages, 
Seeing now through the game, no longer a dupe,  20
And knowing “the upright shall dwell in the land 
But the years of the wicked shall be shortened.” 
Then suddenly, Dr. Meyers discovered 
A cancer in my liver. 
I was not, after all, the particular care of God!  25
Why, even thus standing on a peak 
Above the mists through which I had climbed, 
And ready for larger life in the world, 
Eternal forces 
Moved me on with a push.  30



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