Verse > Edgar Lee Masters > Spoon River Anthology

Edgar Lee Masters (1868–1950).  Spoon River Anthology.  1916.

226. The Village Atheist

YE young debaters over the doctrine 
Of the soul’s immortality, 
I who lie here was the village atheist, 
Talkative, contentious, versed in the arguments 
Of the infidels.         5
But through a long sickness 
Coughing myself to death 
I read the Upanishads and the poetry of Jesus. 
And they lighted a torch of hope and intuition 
And desire which the Shadow,  10
Leading me swiftly through the caverns of darkness, 
Could not extinguish. 
Listen to me, ye who live in the senses 
And think through the senses only: 
Immortality is not a gift,  15
Immortality is an achievement; 
And only those who strive mightily 
Shall possess it. 



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