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

78. State’s Attorney Fallas

I, THE scourge-wielder, balance-wrecker,

Smiter with whips and swords;

I, hater of the breakers of the law;

I, legalist, inexorable and bitter,

Driving the jury to hang the madman, Barry Holden,

Was made as one dead by light too bright for eyes,

And woke to face a Truth with bloody brow:

Steel forceps fumbled by a doctor’s hand

Against my boy’s head as he entered life

Made him an idiot.

I turned to books of science

To care for him.

That’s how the world of those whose minds are sick

Became my work in life, and all my world.

Poor ruined boy! You were, at last, the potter

And I and all my deeds of charity

The vessels of your hand.