Spoon River Anthology is a 1916 collection of short, free-verse poems by American poet Edgar Lee Masters. The universe of Anthology, a small imaginary town on the Spoon River named after a real city in Illinois, contains 212 original characters and 244 accounts of their life plights with their joys and struggles. In this paper, I would like to go into detail about the impression that the Doctor Meyers poem left on me and why I found it to be the most relatable piece.
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Doctor Meyers is rather a small poem of fourteen lines, but Masters proved that less is just enough to paint a full picture of someone’s personality. From the reading, it became instantly apparent that Doctor Meyers was an outstandingly generous and kind-hearted person. It seems that he found his true calling as a medical doctor, and his passion for that profession kept him going no matter what it took him to help the populace in need.
Doctor Meyers’ goal was to reach out to as many people as possible, and his main focus was geared towards the poor in the community – “all the weak, the halt, the improvident (Masters).” Admittedly, his non-discrimination against income or societal status appealed to people, and as he describes, “those who could not pay flocked to [him] (Masters).” Yet, despite his best efforts to make people’s lives better, he died of pneumonia while defamed and disgraced by the press because he could not save one patient.
This disheartening finale made me sad and almost brought tears to my eyes. As with every good poem, it brought me to thinking about my own life and extrapolating what I learned from Doctor Meyers on my experiences. The character was so committed to his job that he always worked at the expense of the time that he could have been spending with his family. Because of such neglect that he brought onto his wife and children unwillingly, his home broke into shambles, and his wife hated him for the constant absenteeism. This family tragedy opened my eyes to the issue of work-life balance.
Climbing up the career ladder, we often ignore those who built us up and were our haven. Even though work is important and needs some sort of sacrifice to bring food to the table, it is not the end-all-be-all.
In his collection of poems, Masters does not lead the reader astray from the simple truth of rural America by flowery metaphors and filigree similes. Instead, he demystifies the lives of those who were dear to him by pouring his heart and soul into the literary pieces. Doctor Meyers stands tall among the characters created by Masters due to his altruism, selflessness, and tragic death. His story moved me and made me wonder what good it makes when a person gains wealth through hard work but does not have a family to spend it with. For me, the poem capitalizes on the importance of balancing work and family, avoiding unnecessary sacrifices, and living a full life.
Masters, Edgar Lee. “Doctor Meyers.” Bartelby.com, 1916. Web.
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