Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

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

244. Webster Ford

DO you remember, O Delphic Apollo, 
The sunset hour by the river, when Mickey M’Grew 
Cried, “There’s a ghost,” and I, “It’s Delphic Apollo”; 
And the son of the banker derided us, saying, “It’s light 
By the flags at the water’s edge, you half-witted fools.”         5
And from thence, as the wearisome years rolled on, long after 
Poor Mickey fell down in the water tower to his death, 
Down, down, through bellowing darkness, I carried 
The vision which perished with him like a rocket which falls 
And quenches its light in earth, and hid it for fear  10
Of the son of the banker, calling on Plutus to save me? 
Avenged were you for the shame of a fearful heart, 
Who left me alone till I saw you again in an hour 
When I seemed to be turned to a tree with trunk and branches 
Growing indurate, turning to stone, yet burgeoning  15
In laurel leaves, in hosts of lambent laurel, 
Quivering, fluttering, shrinking, fighting the numbness 
Creeping into their veins from the dying trunk and branches! 
’Tis vain, O youth, to fly the call of Apollo. 
Fling yourselves in the fire, die with a song of spring,  20
If die you must in the spring. For none shall look 
On the face of Apollo and live, and choose you must 
’Twixt death in the flame and death after years of sorrow, 
Rooted fast in the earth, feeling the grisly hand, 
Not so much in the trunk as in the terrible numbness  25
Creeping up to the laurel leaves that never cease 
To flourish until you fall. O leaves of me 
Too sere for coronal wreaths, and fit alone 
For urns of memory, treasured, perhaps, as themes 
For hearts heroic, fearless singers and livers—  30
Delphic Apollo! 



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