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

193. Henry Phipps

I WAS the Sunday school superintendent,

The dummy president of the wagon works

And the canning factory,

Acting for Thomas Rhodes and the banking clique;

My son the cashier of the bank,

Wedded to Rhodes’ daughter,

My week days spent in making money,

My Sundays at church and in prayer.

In everything a cog in the wheel of things-as-they-are:

Of money, master and man, made white

With the paint of the Christian creed.

And then:

The bank collapsed. I stood and looked at the wrecked machine—

The wheels with blow-holes stopped with putty and painted;

The rotten bolts, the broken rods;

And only the hopper for souls fit to be used again

In a new devourer of life, when newspapers, judges and money-magicians

Build over again.

I was stripped to the bone, but I lay in the Rock of Ages,

Seeing now through the game, no longer a dupe,

And knowing “the upright shall dwell in the land

But the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”

Then suddenly, Dr. Meyers discovered

A cancer in my liver.

I was not, after all, the particular care of God!

Why, even thus standing on a peak

Above the mists through which I had climbed,

And ready for larger life in the world,

Eternal forces

Moved me on with a push.