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

47. Margaret Fuller Slack

I WOULD have been as great as George Eliot

But for an untoward fate.

For look at the photograph of me made by Penniwit,

Chin resting on hand, and deep-set eyes—

Gray, too, and far-searching.

But there was the old, old problem:

Should it be celibacy, matrimony or unchastity?

Then John Slack, the rich druggist, wooed me,

Luring me with the promise of leisure for my novel,

And I married him, giving birth to eight children,

And had no time to write.

It was all over with me, anyway,

When I ran the needle in my hand

While washing the baby’s things,

And died from lock-jaw, an ironical death.

Hear me, ambitious souls,

Sex is the curse of life!