I was the Sunday school superintendent,
The dummy president of the wagon works
And the canning factory,
Acting for Thomas Rhodes and the banking clique;
My son the cashier of the bank,
Wedded to Rhodes’ daughter,
My week day spent in making money,
My Sundays at church and in prayer.
In everything a cog in the wheel of things-as-they-are:
Of money, master and man, made white
With the paint of the Christian creed.
And then:
The bank collapsed. I stood and looked at the wrecked machine —
The wheels with blow-holes stopped with putty and painted;
The rotten bolts, the broken rods;
And only the hopper for souls fit to be used again
In a new devourer of life, when newspapers, judges and money-magicians
Build over again.
I was stripped to the bone, but I lay in the Rock of Ages,
Seeing now through the game, no longer a dupe,
And knowing “the upright shall dwell in the land
But the years of the wicked shall be shortened.”
Then suddenly, Dr. Meyers discovered
A cancer in my liver.
I was not, after all, the particular care of God!
Why, even thus standing on a peak
Above the mists through which I had climbed,
And ready for larger life in the world,
Eternal forces
Moved me on with a push.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Lee Masters's poem Henry Phipps

1 Comment

  1. Ron Peña says:

    This poem brings some sort of reality check to its meaning we see a man who had multiple jobs but when the bank crashes he is left with nothing. This is an interesting poem because it was written 10 or more years before the Great Depression so the same thing Henry Phipps had to go through many Americans would read this poem and think similarly to how Henry would think in his poem.

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