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

242. Isaiah Beethoven

THEY told me I had three months to live,

So I crept to Bernadotte,

And sat by the mill for hours and hours

Where the gathered waters deeply moving

Seemed not to move:

O world, that’s you!

You are but a widened place in the river

Where Life looks down and we rejoice for her

Mirrored in us, and so we dream

And turn away, but when again

We look for the face, behold the low-lands

And blasted cotton-wood trees where we empty

Into the larger stream!

But here by the mill the castled clouds

Mocked themselves in the dizzy water;

And over its agate floor at night

The flame of the moon ran under my eyes

Amid a forest stillness broken

By a flute in a hut on the hill.

At last when I came to lie in bed

Weak and in pain, with the dreams about me,

The soul of the river had entered my soul,

And the gathered power of my soul was moving

So swiftly it seemed to be at rest

Under cities of cloud and under

Spheres of silver and changing worlds—

Until I saw a flash of trumpets

Above the battlements over Time!