Epilogue

(THE GRAVEYARD OF SPOON RIVER. TWO VOICES ARE HEARD BEHIND A SCREEN DECORATED WITH DIABOLICAL AND ANGELIC FIGURES IN VARIOUS ALLEGORICAL RELATIONS. A FAINT LIGHT SHOWS DIMLY THROUGH THE SCREEN AS IF IT WERE WOVEN OF LEAVES, BRANCHES AND SHADOWS.)

FIRST VOICE

A game of checkers?

SECOND VOICE

Well, I don't mind.

FIRST VOICE

I move the Will.

SECOND VOICE

You're playing it blind.

FIRST VOICE

Then here's the Soul.

SECOND VOICE

Checked by the Will.

FIRST VOICE

Eternal Good!

SECOND VOICE

And Eternal Ill.

FIRST VOICE

I haste for the King row.

SECOND VOICE

Save your breath.

FIRST VOICE

I was moving Life.

SECOND VOICE

You're checked by Death.

FIRST VOICE

Very good, here's Moses.

SECOND VOICE

And here's the Jew.

FIRST VOICE

My next move is Jesus.

SECOND VOICE

St. Paul for you!

FIRST VOICE

Yes, but St. Peter

SECOND VOICE

You might have foreseen

FIRST VOICE

You're in the King row --

SECOND VOICE

With Constantine!

FIRST VOICE

I'll go back to Athens.

SECOND VOICE

Well, here's the Persian.

FIRST VOICE

All right, the Bible.

SECOND VOICE

Pray now, what version?

FIRST VOICE

I take up Buddha.

SECOND VOICE

It never will work.

FIRST VOICE

From the corner Mahomet.

SECOND VOICE

I move the Turk.

FIRST VOICE

The game is tangled; where are we now?

SECOND VOICE

You're dreaming worlds. I'm in the King row.
Move as you will, if I can't wreck you
I'll thwart you, harry you, rout you, check you.

FIRST VOICE

I'm tired. I'll send for my Son to play.
I think he can beat you finally --

SECOND VOICE

Eh?

FIRST VOICE

I must preside at the stars' convention.

SECOND VOICE

Very well, my lord, but I beg to mention
I'll give this game my direct attention.

FIRST VOICE

A game indeed! But Truth is my quest.

SECOND VOICE

Beaten, you walk away with a jest.
I strike the table, I scatter the checkers.

(A rattle of a falling table and checkers
flying over a floor.)

Aha! You armies and iron deckers,
Races and states in a cataclysm --
Now for a day of atheism!

(The screen vanishes and BEELZEBUB steps forward carrying a trumpet, which he blows faintly. Immediately LOKI and YOGARINDRA start up from the shadows of night.)

BEELZEBUB

Good evening, Loki!

LOKI

The same to you!

BEELZEBUB

And Yogarindra!

YOGARINDRA

My greetings, too.

LOKI

Whence came you, comrade?

BEELZEBUB

From yonder screen.

YOGARINDRA

And what were you doing?

BEELZEBUB

Stirring His spleen.

LOKI

How did you do it?

BEELZEBUB

I made it rough
In a game of checkers.

LOKI

Good enough!

YOGARINDRA

I thought I heard the sounds of a battle.

BEELZEBUB

No doubt! I made the checkers rattle,
Turning the table over and strewing
The bits of wood like an army pursuing.

YOGARINDRA

I have a game! Let us make a man.

LOKI

My net is waiting him, if you can.

YOGARINDRA

And here's my mirror to fool him with --

BEELZEBUB

Mystery, falsehood, creed and myth.

LOKI

But no one can mold him, friend, but you.

BEELZEBUB

Then to the sport without more ado.

YOGARINDRA

Hurry the work ere it grow to day.

BEELZEBUB

I set me to it. Where is the clay?

(He scrapes the earth with his hands and begins to model.)

BEELZEBUB

Out of the dust,
Out of the slime,
A little rust,
And a little lime.
Muscle and gristle,
Mucin, stone
Brayed with a pestle,
Fat and bone.
Out of the marshes,
Out of the vaults,
Matter crushes
Gas and salts.
What is this you call a mind,
Flitting, drifting, pale and blind,
Soul of the swamp that rides the wind?
Jack-o'-lantern, here you are!
Dream of heaven, pine for a star,
Chase your brothers to and fro,
Back to the swamp at last you'll go.
Hilloo! Hilloo!

THE VALLEY
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Edgar Lee Masters

Edgar Lee Masters was an American poet, biographer, and dramatist. more…

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"Epilogue" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 16 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/8563/epilogue>.

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