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

163. Seth Compton

WHEN I died, the circulating library

Which I built up for Spoon River,

And managed for the good of inquiring minds,

Was sold at auction on the public square,

As if to destroy the last vestige

Of my memory and influence.

For those of you who could not see the virtue

Of knowing Volney’s “Ruins” as well as Butler’s “Analogy”

And “Faust” as well as “Evangeline,”

Were really the power in the village,

And often you asked me,

“What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?”

I am out of your way now, Spoon River,

Choose your own good and call it good.

For I could never make you see

That no one knows what is good

Who knows not what is evil;

And no one knows what is true

Who knows not what is false.