Each of the gravestones in the cemetery at Spoon River—the fictional Midwestern small town created by Edgar Lee Masters in his 1915 Spoon River Anthology—tells a poignant tale. In a few lines, each epitaph sums up the life of a villager, and many of those stories are bleak. But then there’s the triumphant tale of Lucinda Matlock, a frontier wife and mother with an unquenchable zest for life.
Life and labor are among the joys of such a woman. Happy Labor Day to us all.
I went to the dances at Chandlerville,
And played snap-out at Winchester.
One time we changed partners,
Driving home in the moonlight of middle June,
And then I found Davis.
We were married and lived together for seventy years,
Enjoying, working, raising the twelve children,
Eight of whom we lost
Ere I had reached the age of sixty.
I kept the house,
I nursed the sick,
I made the garden, and for holiday
Rambled over the fields where sang the larks,
And by Spoon River gathering many a shell,
And many a flower and medicinal weed –
Shouting to the wooded hills, singing to the green valleys.
At ninety-six I had lived enough, that is all,
And passed to a sweet repose.
What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness,
Anger, discontent and drooping hopes?
Degenerate sons and daughters,
Life is too strong for you –
It takes life to love Life.
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