Edgar Lee Masters

(23 August 1868 – 5 March 1950 / Kansas / United States)

Oaks Tutt - Poem by Edgar Lee Masters

My mother was for woman's rights
And my father was the rich miller at London Mills.
I dreamed of the wrongs of the world and wanted to right them.
When my father died, I set out to see peoples and countries
In order to learn how to reform the world.
I traveled through many lands.
I saw the ruins of Rome,
And the ruins of Athens,
And the ruins of Thebes.
And I sat by moonlight amid the necropolis of Memphis.
There I was caught up by wings of flame,
And a voice from heaven said to me:
"Injustice, Untruth destroyed them. Go forth!
Preach Justice! Preach Truth!"
And I hastened back to Spoon River
To say farewell to my mother before beginning my work.
They all saw a strange light in my eye.
And by and by, when I taIked, they discovered
What had come in my mind.
Then Jonathan Swift Somers challenged me to debate
The subject, (I taking the negative):
"Pontius Pilate, the Greatest Philosopher of the World."
And he won the debate by saying at last,
"Before you reform the world, Mr. Tutt
Please answer the question of Pontius Pilate:
'What is Truth?'"


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Read poems about / on: london, justice, farewell, father, truth, mother, river, world, woman, work, heaven, light, travel, women, dream



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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