Edgar Lee Masters’ Zenas Witt – Replicate

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Edgar Lee Masters’ «Zenas Witt»

Updated on January 19, 2019

Linda Sue Grimes


Poesy became my cacoethes, afterward I fly enamored with Walter de la Maria’s «Facile» in Mrs. Edna Pickett’s second-year English form, circa 1962.

Edgar Lee Masters, Esq.


Foundation and Schoolbook of «Zenas Witt»

Edgar Lee Masters’ «Zenas Witt» from Smooch River Anthology features an inauspicious quality whose nervousness, it would look, led him to an former sculpture. Zenas is one of Edgar Lee Masters’ more undefined speakers from the Spoonful River cemetery.

This talker does supervise to conduct the fact that his curt aliveness caused him heavy woe ahead it was extinguished at an former age quondam mistily astern he had off xvi. Zenas ne’er becomes particular plenty edubir to let the reviewer recognize precisely when he died or what he died of. That deletion seems to be purposely motivated in gild to underscore the swain’s pitiable retention and impuissance of wellness.

Zenas Witt

I was xvi, and I had the well-nigh dread dreams,

And specks earlier my eyes, and anxious impuissance.

And I couldn’t commend the books I study,

Care Weenie Drummer who memorized pageboy aft paginate

And my rear was watery, and I disturbed and upset,

And I was abashed and stammered my lessons,

And when I stood capable itemize I’d bury

Everything that I had studied.

Easily, I saw Dr. Weese’s advertising,

And thither I translate everything in impress,

Scarce as if he had known me;

And most the dreams which I couldn’t assistance.

So I knew I was pronounced for an other dangerous.

And I apprehensive until I had a coughing,

So the dreams stopped-up.

Then I slept the sopor without dreams

Hither on the mound by the river.

Interpretation of «Zenas Witt»


One of Edgar Lee Masters’ more faint speakers from the tomb, Zenas Witt does arrive crystallize that he suffered a wretched macrocosm from age xvi.

Beginning Move: Fuzzed Intellection

I was xvi, and I had the virtually direful dreams,

And specks earlier my eyes, and aflutter failing.

And I couldn’t commend the books I scan,

Similar Frankfurter Drummer who memorized varlet abaft pageboy

Zenas begins his sermon, by announcing that when he was 16 days old, he had «the about dreaded dreams.» He saw «specks earlier [his] eyes.» He reports his unfitness to recollect books he had take. Zenas likens his status to » Postmark Drummer ,» who claimed to sustain memorized the stallion Cyclopedia Britannica .

The disconnection ‘tween Zenas’ affirmation that his term was alike to Dog Drummer and his own description of his difficultness demonstrates the blurred mentation that the one-time seems to bear in improver to his strong-arm problems.

S Motility: Bad Wellness

And my binding was fallible, and I apprehensive and disquieted,

And I was abashed and stammered my lessons,

And when I stood capable itemize I’d bury

Everything that I had studied.

Zenas continues to account his inauspicious wellness issues: he had a imperfect cover, he apprehensive overly, he was well humiliated by his maladies, and when he had to bristle in year to declaim his lessons he would block them. Zenas’ retention was so bad that flush though he had studied, he could ne’er commemorate anything he had attached to remembering.

Thirdly Cause: Miracle Therapeutic

Wellspring, I saw Dr. Weese’s ad,

And thither I interpret everything in impress,

Upright as if he had known me;

And most the dreams which I couldn’t assist.

Zenas reports that he saw «Dr. Weese’s advertizing» and was attracted by what the ad aforementioned. He take everything around Dr. Weese’s putative miracle therapeutic. Zenas matt-up that the dr. was describing his own office, «hardly as if he had known me.»

The doc eve knows most the dreams, and Zenas feels he moldiness vehemence that he could not restraint the dreams. Such a confession implies that Zenas mightiness suffer believed he had controller concluded his over-the-counter woes but matt-up shamefaced that he did not do so.

Quartern Campaign: No Miracle Heal

So I knew I was pronounced for an betimes tomb.

And I disturbed until I had a coughing,

So the dreams stopped-up.

Cipher always came of this potential miracle remedy, and Zenas admits that he was trusted he would die betimes. Thence, he continued to trouble correct up until the meter highly-developed a coughing. Zenas says that the dreams short came to a stay. He does not complicate or fifty-fifty clue at how longsighted he continued to lose his jitteriness, nightmares, and hapless retention.

5th Cause: No Dream on the Mound

So I slept the sopor without dreams

Hither on the mound by the river.

Abruptly, without ostentation, Zenas is beat. He dramatically and poetically refers to his circumstance as «sle[eping] the kip without dreams / Hither on the mound by the river.» Zenas is one of the more tight-lipped asleep reporters from the Smooch River cemetery. The lector ne’er learns the specifics of his illnesses and is leftover to shot their nature too as equitable how foresightful Zenas had to sustain them. He likewise leaves ill-defined hardly incisively what finally killed him.

Edgar Lee Masters


Sprightliness Outline of Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters, (Lordly 23, 1868 – Abut 5, 1950), authored approximately 39 books in increase to Smooch River Anthology , yet nada in his canyon always gained the blanket renown that the 243 reports of mass speechmaking from the bey the engrave brought him. In increase to the single reports, or «epitaphs,» as Masters called them, the Anthology includes ternary former foresighted poems that propose summaries or early textile apposite to the graveyard inmates or the air of the fancied townsfolk of Smooch River, #1 «The Mound,»#245 «The Spooniad,» and #246 «Epilog.»

Edgar Lee Masters was innate on Revered 23, 1868, in Garnett, Kansas; the Masters folk presently resettled to Lewistown, Illinois. The fancied township of Smooch River constitutes a complex of Lewistown, where Masters grew up and Petersburg, IL, where his grandparents resided. Piece the townspeople of Smooch River was a founding of Masters’ doing, thither is an Illinois river named «Spoonful River,» which is a feeder of the Illinois River in the west-central share of the nation, working a 148-mile-long stretching betwixt Peoria and Galesburg.

Masters concisely accompanied Knox College but had to quit because of the folk’s funds. He went on to discipline law and posterior had a sooner successful law exercise, later existence admitted to the bar in 1891. He afterward became a spouse in the law position of Clarence Darrow, whose distinguish bedspread far and all-inclusive because of the Scopes Trial— The Province of Tennessee v. Trick Thomas Scopes— too gibingly known as the «Rapscallion Test.»

Masters marital Helen Jenkins in 1898, and the matrimony brought Passkey cypher but grief. In his memoir, Crosswise Smooch River , the charwoman features heavy in his story without his always mentioning her figure; he refers to her lonesome as the «Gilt Atmosphere,» and he does not signify it in a commodity way.

Masters and the «Gilt Atmosphere» produced trey children, but they divorced in 1923. He marital Ellen Coyne in 1926, aft having resettled to New York Metropolis. He stopped-up practicing law in edict to give more meter to penning.

Masters was awarded the Poesy Gild of America Honour, the Academy Companionship, the Shelley Remembrance Awarding, and he was likewise the receiver of a yield from the American Academy of Humanities and Letters.

On Abut 5, 1950, upright 5 months shy of his 82 birthday, the poet died in Melrose Parkland, Pennsylvania, in a nursing readiness. He is interred in Oakland Necropolis in Petersburg, Illinois.

© 2017 Linda Sue Grimes