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

40. Theodore the Poet

AS a boy, Theodore, you sat for long hours

On the shore of the turbid Spoon

With deep-set eye staring at the door of the crawfish’s burrow,

Waiting for him to appear, pushing ahead,

First his waving antennæ, like straws of hay,

And soon his body, colored like soap-stone,

Gemmed with eyes of jet.

And you wondered in a trance of thought

What he knew, what he desired, and why he lived at all.

But later your vision watched for men and women

Hiding in burrows of fate amid great cities,

Looking for the souls of them to come out,

So that you could see

How they lived, and for what,

And why they kept crawling so busily

Along the sandy way where water fails

As the summer wanes.