Mr Kessler, you know, was in the army,
And he drew six dollars a month as a pension,
And stood on the corner talking politics,
Or sat at home reading Grant’s Memoirs;
And I supported the family by washing,
Learning the secrets of all the people
From their curtains, counterpanes, shirts and skirts.
For things that are new grow old at length,
They’re replaced with better or none at all:
People are prospering or falling back.
And rents and patches widen with time;
No thread or needle can pace decay,
And there are stains that baffle soap,
And there are colors that run in spite of you,
Blamed though you are for spoiling a dress.
Handkerchieds, napery, have their secrets–
The laundress, Life, knows all about it.
And I, who went to all the funerals
Held in Spoon River, swear I never
Saw a dead face without thinking it looked
Like something washed and ironed.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Lee Masters's poem Mrs. Kessler

2 Comments

  1. Becca says:

    I don’t really understand this poem. Is she a busybody poking into other ppls buisness or is she a kindhearted lady providing for her family?

  2. Someone from Mrs. S' class says:

    Mrs. Kessler is a great character, she talks about how SHE provided for her family and how she could see all secrets through the clothes she washed, from the rips and tears to the stains.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Edgar Lee Masters better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.