Edgar Lee Masters: Chase Henry and Judge Somers (Spoon River Anthology)

Chase Henry

IN life I was the town drunkard;
When I died the priest denied me burial
In holy ground.
The which redounded to my good fortune.
For the Protestants bought this lot,
And buried my body here,
Close to the grave of the banker Nicholas,
And of his wife Priscilla.
Take note, ye prudent and pious souls,
Of the cross-currents in life
Which bring honor to the dead, who lived in shame

Judge Somers

How does it happen, tell me,
That I who was most erudite of lawyers,
Who knew Blackstone and Coke
Almost by heart, who made the greatest speech
The court-house ever heard, and wrote
A brief that won the praise of Justice Breese
How does it happen, tell me,
That I lie here unmarked, forgotten,
While Chase Henry, the town drunkard,
Has a marble block, topped by an urn
Wherein Nature, in a mood ironical,
Has sown a flowering weed?


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Lao-Tzu #27: A good traveler leaves no tracks, and a skillful speaker is well rehearsed.



A good traveler leaves no tracks,

and a skillful speaker is well rehearsed.

A good bookkeeper has an excellent memory,

and a well-made door is easy to open and needs no locks.

A good knot needs no rope and it cannot come undone.


Thus the Master is willing to help everyone,

and doesn’t know the meaning of rejection.

She is there to help all of creation,

and doesn’t abandon even the smallest creature.

This is called embracing the light.


What is a good person but a bad person’s teacher?

What is a bad person but raw material for his teacher?

If you fail to honor your teacher or fail to enjoy your student,

you will become deluded no matter how smart you are.

It is the secret of prime importance.


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Aesop: The Belly and the Members

One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.