When I first came to Spoon River
I did not know whether what they told me
Was true or false.
They would bring me an epitaph
And stand around the shop while I worked
And say “He was so kind,” “He was wonderful,”
“She was the sweetest woman,” “He was a consistent Christian.”
And I chiseled for them whatever they wished,
All in ignorance of its truth.
But later, as I lived among the people here,
I knew how near to the life
Were the epitaphs that were ordered for them when they died.
But still I chiseled whatever they paid me to chisel
And made myself party to the false chronicles
Of the stones,
Even as the historian does who writes
Without knowing the truth,
Or because he is influenced to hide it.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Edgar Lee Masters's poem Richard Bone

1 Comment

  1. Ramirez victor says:

    Richard Bone is an engraver who is paid to chisel words on epitaphs. Although he knows some of the epitaphs are lies, he is trapped into performing the job, and because he must work to survive, he ignores the truth. This poem uses metaphors to compare Richard Bone to an historian. An historian writes what he researches. However, in Bone’s case, although he knows the truth, he has to hide it from the townspeople of Spoon River. His last name Bone symbolizes death. Death is his living. He works in a graveyard.

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