Edgar Lee Masters: Zilpha Marsh (Spoon River Anthology)

AT four o’clock in late October
I sat alone in the country school-house
Back from the road, mid stricken fields,
And an eddy of wind blew leaves on the pane,
And crooned in the flue of the cannon-stove,
With its open door blurring the shadows
With the spectral glow of a dying fire.
In an idle mood I was running the planchette—
All at once my wrist grew limp,
And my hand moved rapidly over the board,
‘Till the name of “Charles Guiteau” was spelled,
Who threatened to materialize before me.
I rose and fled from the room bare-headed
Into the dusk, afraid of my gift.
And after that the spirits swarmed—
Chaucer, Caesar, Poe and Marlowe,
Cleopatra and Mrs. Surratt—
Wherever I went, with messages,—
Mere trifling twaddle, Spoon River agreed.
You talk nonsense to children, don’t you?
And suppose I see what you never saw
And never heard of and have no word for,
I must talk nonsense when you ask me
What it is I see!

***

Notes:

• Planchette: “a small board supported on casters, typically heart-shaped and fitted with a vertical pencil, used for automatic writing and in seances.” — dictionary.com

• Christopher Marlowe: author of the tragedy Doctor Faustus.

• “Mary Elizabeth Jenkins Surratt was an American boarding house owner who was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. Sentenced to death, she was hanged and became the first woman executed by the US federal government.” — Wikipedia

***

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: