By Edgar Lee Masters
She took my strength by minutes,
She took my life by hours,
She drained me like a fevered moon
That saps the spinning world.
The days went by like shadows,
The minutes wheeled like stars.
She took the pity from my heart,
And made it into smiles.
She was a hunk of sculptor’s clay,
My secret thoughts were fingers:
They flew behind her pensive brow
And lined it deep with pain.
They set the lips, and sagged the cheeks,
And drooped the eyes with sorrow.
My soul had entered in the clay,
Fighting like seven devils.
It was not mine, it was not hers;
She held it, but its struggles
Modeled a face she hated,
And a face I feared to see.
I beat the windows, shook the bolts.
I hid me in a corner—
And then she died and haunted me,
And hunted me for life.
Summary of Fletcher McGee
- Popularity of “Fletcher McGee”: Written by Edgar Lee Masters, a known American writer, and dramatist, “Fletcher McGee” is a confessional poetic piece.The poem first appeared in an anthology, Spoon River Anthology, in 1915 and became an instant hit due to its style of the collection of epitaphs of the regional people. The poem talks about a man who is responsible for his wife’s untimely death. It revolves around his confession and the depression he faced in life. The poem, however, has gained popularity as it unfolds how depression creeps into nerves and makes people insane.
- “Fletcher McGee” As a Representative of Human Nature: This confessional poem details the sad and tragic life story of a married couple. It begins when the speaker tells how his wife brought suffering to his life. He used persuasive diction to explain how she gradually drained his strength and robbed his joys. He compares her to a fevered moon, implying she is an ill omen. At first, he tries to pity his wife’s appearance, but later his pity turns into smiles once he believes nothing will change. It seems that the speaker was not a good husband; he failed to treat her the way she deserved. With time, they made each other feel miserable. The lady disturbed his mental health, and in reaction, he distorted her appearance. Consequently, he got agitated with the lady’s appearance and confined himself in his room. Unfortunately, his wife died, but her spirit continue haunting him until his last breath.
- Major Themes in “Fletcher McGee”: Depression, confession, and regret are the major themes of the poem. This poem deals with the sorrow and confession of a man who takes responsibility for his wife’s murder and provides sufficient evidence. Although the speaker does not trace her actual mistakes, he makes her responsible for bringing ruination to his life. The poem is somehow ironic; instead of providing the lady comfort, the speaker prefers being revengeful. He makes her stand on the verge of death, thinking he may get rid of her. Unfortunately, even after her death, he could not take a sigh of relief. Through this poem, the writer explains the role of depression in people’s life. Unfortunately, when depression enters someone’s life, it makes him/her weak and sensitive.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in Fletcher McGee
literary devices are modes that represent the writer’s ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is through these devices the writers make their readers feel the real meanings. Edgar Lee Masters has used these devices as shown below.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /e/ in “My secret thoughts were fingers:” and the sound of /o/ in “I beat the windows, shook the bolts.”
- Anaphora: It refers to the repetition of a word or expression in the first part of some verses. The writer has repeated the word “she” in the first stanza of the poem to emphasize the point, such as;
“She took my strength by minutes,
She took my life by hours.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /t/ in “It was not mine, it was not hers” and the sound of /s/ in “They set the lips, and sagged the cheeks.”
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;
“She drained me like a fevered moon
That saps the spinning world.”
- Irony: Irony is a figure of speech in which words are used in such a way that their intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words. This poem presents situational irony, the writer draws a picture of how he became the reason of his wife’s death.
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Edgar Lee Masters has used imagery in this poem such as; “She drained me like a fevered moon”, “They set the lips, and sagged the cheeks” and “Modeled a face she hated.”
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between objects different in nature. The poet has used depression and tension are extended metaphors in the poem to show how they make people vulnerable.”
- Simile: It is a device Used to compare something with something else to make the meanings clear to the readers. The writer has used this device in the opening lines of the poem such as; “She drained me like a fevered moon.”
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as death, depression, sadness, and heinous crime.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in Fletcher McGee
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction having rhetorical devices, symbolism, and impressive images.
- Free Verse: Free verse is a type of poetry that does not contain patterns of rhyme or meter. This is a free verse poem with no strict rhyme or meter.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are twenty-four lines in this poem with no stanza break.
Quotes to be Used
The following lines are suitable to quote while narrating the most disturbing events of life.
“I beat the windows, shook the bolts.
I hid me in a corner–
And then she died and haunted me,
And hunted me for life.”