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Spoon River Anthology: "Doc Hill"

I think I'll be doing my project on "Doc Hill" from the Spoon River Anthology.

Doc Hill

I went up and down the streets

Here and there by day and night,

Through all house of the night caring for the poor who were

sick.

Do you know why?

My wife hated me, my son went to the dogs.

And I turned to the people and poured out my love to them.

Sweet it was to see the crowds about the lawns on the day

of my funeral,

And hear them murmur their love and sorrow.

But oh, dear God, my soul trembled, scarcely able

To hold the railing of the new life

When I saw Em Stanton behind the oak tree

At the grave,

Hiding herself, and her grief!

There were a few things that immediately interested me about this poem, mainly the type of information that was left out.

1) It gives a lot of information about Doc Hill--we know his profession, his caring nature, the fact that his wife hated him and his son was a sort of misguided youth. What we don't know is how he died, which I thought was really intriguing, seeing as how most of the other poems reveal the person's cause of death. So that's the first question I'd like to expand on.

2) Another thing we don't find out is who the heck Em Stanton is. All we know about her is her name! We don't know her age or her place in the town (she was never mentioned in any other poems). All we really know is that she cares about him deeply yet wasn't supposed to be openly mourning him. Why's that?

I think I'd like to take some of the missing pieces in this poem and "tease" out a narrative that way. I think I'd actually like to focus mostly on the Em Stanton character, as she seems a bit mysterious and I'd love to conjure up a life for her out of the few lines we're given.

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