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

130. Professor Newcomer

EVERYONE laughed at Col. Prichard

For buying an engine so powerful

That it wrecked itself, and wrecked the grinder

He ran it with.

But here is a joke of cosmic size:

The urge of nature that made a man

Evolve from his brain a spiritual life—

Oh miracle of the world!—

The very same brain with which the ape and wolf

Get food and shelter and procreate themselves.

Nature has made man do this,

In a world where she gives him nothing to do

After all—(though the strength of his soul goes round

In a futile waste of power,

To gear itself to the mills of the gods)—

But get food and shelter and procreate himself!