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

67. Sexsmith the Dentist


DO you think that odes and sermons, 
And the ringing of church bells, 
And the blood of old men and young men, 
Martyred for the truth they saw 
With eyes made bright by faith in God,         5
Accomplished the world’s great reformations? 
Do you think that the Battle Hymn of the Republic 
Would have been heard if the chattel slave 
Had crowned the dominant dollar, 
In spite of Whitney’s cotton gin,  10
And steam and rolling mills and iron 
And telegraphs and white free labor? 
Do you think that Daisy Fraser 
Had been put out and driven out 
If the canning works had never needed  15
Her little house and lot? 
Or do you think the poker room 
Of Johnnie Taylor, and Burchard’s bar 
Had been closed up if the money lost 
And spent for beer had not been turned,  20
By closing them, to Thomas Rhodes 
For larger sales of shoes and blankets, 
And children’s cloaks and gold-oak cradles? 
Why, a moral truth is a hollow tooth 
Which must be propped with gold.  25


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