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

182. Mrs. Merritt

SILENT before the jury,

Returning no word to the judge when he asked me

If I had aught to say against the sentence,

Only shaking my head.

What could I say to people who thought

That a woman of thirty-five was at fault

When her lover of nineteen killed her husband?

Even though she had said to him over and over,

“Go away, Elmer, go far away,

I have maddened your brain with the gift of my body:

You will do some terrible thing.”

And just as I feared, he killed my husband;

With which I had nothing to do, before God!

Silent for thirty years in prison!

And the iron gates of Joliet

Swung as the gray and silent trusties

Carried me out in a coffin.