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

165. Schrœder the Fisherman

I SAT on the bank above Bernadotte

And dropped crumbs in the water,

Just to see the minnows bump each other,

Until the strongest got the prize.

Or I went to my little pasture,

Where the peaceful swine were asleep in the wallow,

Or nosing each other lovingly,

And emptied a basket of yellow corn,

And watched them push and squeal and bite,

And trample each other to get the corn.

And I saw how Christian Dallman’s farm,

Of more than three thousand acres,

Swallowed the patch of Felix Schmidt,

As a bass will swallow a minnow.

And I say if there’s anything in man—

Spirit, or conscience, or breath of God

That makes him different from fishes or hogs,

I’d like to see it work!