State’s Attorney Fallas, by Edgar Lee Masters

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.

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Fletcher McGee, by Edgar Lee Masters

She took my strength by minutes,
She took my life by hours,
She drained me like a fevered moon
That saps the spinning world.
The days went by like shadows,
The minutes wheeled like stars.
She took the pity from my heart,
And made it into smiles.
She was a hunk of sculptor’s clay,
My secret thoughts were fingers:
They flew behind her pensive brow
And lined it deep with pain.
They set the lips, and sagged the cheeks,
And drooped the eyes with sorrow.
My soul had entered in the clay,
Fighting like seven devils.
It was not mine, it was not hers;
She held it, but its struggles
Modeled a face she hated,
And a face I feared to see.
I beat the windows, shook the bolts.
I hid me in a corner—
And then she died and haunted me,
And hunted me for life.