State's Attorney Fallas

By Edgar Lee Masters 1868–1950
I, the scourge-wielder, balance-wrecker,
Smiter with whips and swords;
I, hater of the breakers of the law;
I, legalist, inexorable and bitter,
Driving the jury to hang the madman, Barry Holden,
Was made as one dead by light too bright for eyes,
And woke to face a Truth with bloody brow:
Steel forceps fumbled by a doctor's hand
Against my boy's head as he entered life
Made him an idiot.
I turned to books of science
To care for him.
That's how the world of those whose minds are sick
Became my work in life, and all my world.
Poor ruined boy! You were, at last, the potter
And I and all my deeds of charity
The vessels of your hand.

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Poet Edgar Lee Masters 1868–1950

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Crime & Punishment, Living, Social Commentaries, Death, Parenthood

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Persona

 Edgar Lee Masters

Biography

Edgar Lee Masters is best remembered for his great collection Spoon River Anthology, a sequence of over two hundred free-verse epitaphs spoken from the cemetery of the town of Spoon River. When the collection first saw publication in 1915, it caused a great sensation because of its forthrightness about sex, moral decay, and hypocrisy; but its cynical view of Midwestern small town values influenced a whole generation of writers . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, Living, Social Commentaries, Death, Parenthood

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Persona

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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