Edgar Lee Masters: Jacob Godbey and Benjamin Pantier (Spoon River Anthology)

Jacob Godbey

How did you feel, you libertarians,
Who spent your talents rallying noble reasons
Around the saloon, as if Liberty
Was not to be found anywhere except at the bar
Or at a table, guzzling?
How did you feel, Ben Pantier, and the rest of you,
Who almost stoned me for a tyrant
Garbed as a moralist,
And as a wry-faced ascetic frowning upon Yorkshire pudding,
Roast beef and ale and good will and rosy cheer—
Things you never saw in a grog-shop in your life?
How did you feel after I was dead and gone,
And your goddess, Liberty, unmasked as a strumpet,
Selling out the streets of Spoon River
To the insolent giants
Who manned the saloons from afar?
Did it occur to you that personal liberty
Is liberty of the mind,
Rather than of the belly?


Benjamin Pantier

Together in this grave lie Benjamin Pantier, attorney at law, 

And Nig, his dog, constant companion, solace and friend. 

Down the gray road, friends, children, men and women, 

Passing one by one out of life, left me till I was alone 

With Nig for partner, bed-fellow, comrade in drink. 

In the morning of life I knew aspiration and saw glory. 

Then she, who survives me, snared my soul 

With a snare which bled me to death, 

Till I, once strong of will, lay broken, indifferent, 

Living with Nig in a room back of a dingy office. 

Under my jaw-bone is snuggled the bony nose of Nig — 

Our story is lost in silence. Go by, mad world!



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