Home  »  Spoon River Anthology  »  67. Sexsmith the Dentist

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

67. Sexsmith the Dentist

DO you think that odes and sermons,

And the ringing of church bells,

And the blood of old men and young men,

Martyred for the truth they saw

With eyes made bright by faith in God,

Accomplished the world’s great reformations?

Do you think that the Battle Hymn of the Republic

Would have been heard if the chattel slave

Had crowned the dominant dollar,

In spite of Whitney’s cotton gin,

And steam and rolling mills and iron

And telegraphs and white free labor?

Do you think that Daisy Fraser

Had been put out and driven out

If the canning works had never needed

Her little house and lot?

Or do you think the poker room

Of Johnnie Taylor, and Burchard’s bar

Had been closed up if the money lost

And spent for beer had not been turned,

By closing them, to Thomas Rhodes

For larger sales of shoes and blankets,

And children’s cloaks and gold-oak cradles?

Why, a moral truth is a hollow tooth

Which must be propped with gold.