When I died, the circulating library
which I built up for Spoon River,
and managed for the good of inquiring minds,
was sold at auction on the public square,
as if to destroy the last vestige
of my memory and influence.
For those of you who could not see the virtue
of knowing Volney’s “Ruins” as well as Butler’s “Analogy”
and “Faust” as well as “Evangeline,”
were really the power in the village
and often you asked me,
“What is the use of knowing the evil in the world?”
I am out of your way now, Spoon River,
chose your own good and call it good.
For I could never make you see
that no one knows what is good
who knows not what is evil;
And no one knows what is true
who knows not what is false.
— EDGAR LEE MASTERS (1868 – 1950)