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Edgar Lee Masters' "A. D. Blood" and "Robert Southey Burke"

Updated on April 4, 2018
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Edgar Lee Masters


68. Edgar Lee Masters’ “A. D. Blood”

Masters’ character, A. D. Blood is outraged that a couple is using his grave for a site for trysting.

Introduction: A Short, Sweet Complaint

In Edgar Lee Masters’ “A. D. Blood” from Spoon River Anthology, the speaker offers a report that is short and sweet; he has a simple complaint that he hurls at the Spoon River folk in the form of a question.

Mr. A. D. Blood is bemoaning the agony he suffers from having a couple employ his grave as a bed where they engaging in the act of fornication.

Reading of "A. D. Blood"

First Movement: “If you in the village think that my work was a good one”

\Mr. Blood cautiously assumes that the village of Spoon River appreciated the fact that he went about on “a crusade to purge the people of sin.”

Mayor Blood was instrumental in closing saloons and shutting down gambling.

Mr. Blood even snitched on Daisy Fraser’s prostitution activity, causing her to be hauled up in from of Judge Arnett repeatedly.

Mr. Blood is sure that his work was good, but he can only surmise that the town agreed with him; thus he is forced to place his activities in an “if” clause and then ask his pertinent question.

Second Movement: “Why do you let the milliner’s daughter Dora”

Because Mr. Blood had such a good influence on Spoon River, at least in his own mind, he now wonders why the town allows this impertinent couple to fornicate on his grave.

Mr. Blood names the couple: “the worthless son of Benjamin Pantier” and “the milliner’s daughter Dora.”

Mr. Blood colorfully refers to their dirty deed as “[n]ightly mak[ing] my grave their unholy pillow.”

But was Mr. Blood correct in calling Reuben Pantier “worthless”? Emily Sparks offers a different opinion about Reuben.

69. Edgar Lee Masters’ “Robert Southey Burke”

Robert Southey Burke has a huge axe to grind with A. D. Blood.

Reading of "Robert Southey Burke"

Introduction: Worshiping at Feet of Clay

In Edgar Lee Masters’ “Robert Southey Burke” from Spoon River Anthology, Mr. Burke lets off steam from his animosity toward “A. D. Blood.”

A.D. Blood had served as mayor of Spoon River and was annoyed that a couple was now using his grave as a place to fornicate.

Although Blood did not mention Burke, Blood’s personality begins to emerge as a self-righteous, pompous character as Burke unveils his travails.

At the same time, Burke reveals his own small, sniveling character as his complaints unfold.

First Movement: “I spent my money trying to elect you Mayor”

Burke begins by reporting, as he addresses Blood, that he “spent [his] money trying to get” Blood elected mayor. Continuing, Burke claims that he “lavished [his] admiration” on Blood.

Burke then admits that he thought Blood was “the almost perfect man.” Either Burke was naïve or Blood was a master at deception, likely a healthy portion of each.

Second Movement: “You devoured my personality”

Burke turns ugly and desperate rather quickly as he laments, “You devoured my personality, / And the idealism of my youth.”

Furthermore, Burke accuses Blood of stealing his fierce loyalty in addition to all of his “hopes for the world, / And all my beliefs in Truth.”

All of Burke's hopes and beliefs were bound up tightly in his “devotion” to Blood. Burke had “molded” an image of Blood that was beyond super-human.

Third Movement: “And then when I found what you were”

Then Burke discovered the real Blood. Burke does not reveal how he discovered the truth about his idol, but once he did, he realizes that Blood had a small soul, that Blood’s words were as fake as his “blue-white porcelain teeth,” and his “cuffs of celluloid.”

And after making this shocking discovery, Burke “hated the love [he] had for “Blood].”

Fourth Movement: “I hated myself, I hated you”

Furthermore, Burke despised himself. And he hated Blood for wasting Burke’s soul, youth, and ideals.

Burke ends his tirade by offering what he thinks is sage advice: “Beware of giving your love away / To any man alive.”

Poor Robert Southey Burke died a lonely, disgruntled, deluded man.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes


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