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

176. Alfred Moir

WHY was I not devoured by self-contempt,

And rotted down by indifference

And impotent revolt like Indignation Jones?

Why, with all of my errant steps,

Did I miss the fate of Willard Fluke?

And why, though I stood at Burchard’s bar,

As a sort of decoy for the house to the boys

To buy the drinks, did the curse of drink

Fall on me like rain that runs off,

Leaving the soul of me dry and clean?

And why did I never kill a man

Like Jack McGuire?

But instead I mounted a little in life,

And I owe it all to a book I read.

But why did I go to Mason City,

Where I chanced to see the book in a window,

With its garish cover luring my eye?

And why did my soul respond to the book,

As I read it over and over?