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

91. Thomas Ross, Jr.

THIS I saw with my own eyes:

A cliff-swallow

Made her nest in a hole of the high clay-bank

There near Miller’s Ford.

But no sooner were the young hatched

Than a snake crawled up to the nest

To devour the brood.

Then the mother swallow with swift flutterings

And shrill cries

Fought at the snake,

Blinding him with the beat of her wings,

Until he, wriggling and rearing his head,

Fell backward down the bank

Into Spoon River and was drowned.

Scarcely an hour passed

Until a shrike

Impaled the mother swallow on a thorn.

As for myself I overcame my lower nature

Only to be destroyed by my brother’s ambition.