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

39. Zenas Witt

I WAS sixteen, and I had the most terrible dreams,

And specks before my eyes, and nervous weakness.

And I couldn’t remember the books I read,

Like Frank Drummer who memorized page after page.

And my back was weak, and I worried and worried,

And I was embarrassed and stammered my lessons,

And when I stood up to recite I’d forget

Everything that I had studied.

Well, I saw Dr. Weese’s advertisement,

And there I read everything in print,

Just as if he had known me;

And about the dreams which I couldn’t help.

So I knew I was marked for an early grave.

And I worried until I had a cough,

And then the dreams stopped.

And then I slept the sleep without dreams

Here on the hill by the river.