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

73. The Circuit Judge

TAKE note, passers-by, of the sharp erosions

Eaten in my head-stone by the wind and rain—

Almost as if an intangible Nemesis or hatred

Were marking scores against me,

But to destroy, and not preserve, my memory.

I in life was the Circuit Judge, a maker of notches,

Deciding cases on the points the lawyers scored,

Not on the right of the matter.

O wing and rain, leave my head-stone alone!

For worse than the anger of the wronged,

The curses of the poor,

Was to lie speechless, yet with vision clear,

Seeing that even Hod Putt, the murderer,

Hanged by my sentence,

Was innocent in soul compared with me.