'Fiddler Jones' by Edgar Lee Masters

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The earth keeps some vibration going
There in your heart, and that is you.
And if the people find you can fiddle,
Why, fiddle you must and for all your life.
What do you see, a harvest ofclover?
Or a meadow to awlk through to the river?
The wind's in the corn; you rub your hands
for beeves hereafter ready for market;
Or else you hear the rustle of skirts
Like the girls when dancing at Little Grove.
To Cooney Potter a pillar of dust
Or whirling leaves meant ruinous drouth;
They looked to me like Red-Head Sammy
Stepping it off, to "Toor-a-Loor."
How could I till my forty acres
Not to speak of getting more,
With a medley of horns, bassoons and piccolos
Stirred in my brain by crows androbins
And the creak of a wind-mill-only these?
And I never started to plow in my life
That some one did not stop in the road
And tkae me away to a dance or picnic.
I ended up with forty acres;
I ended up with a broken fiddle-
And a broken laugh, and a thousand memories.
And not a single regret.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Poetry Analysis: Fiddler Jones by Edgar Lee Masters

Are you a fan of poetry that tells stories? Do you appreciate the beauty of simple language with deeper meanings? If so, you must read "Fiddler Jones" by Edgar Lee Masters.

"Fiddler Jones" is part of the Spoon River Anthology, a collection of poems that tell the stories of the residents of Spoon River. This poem is the story of the titular character, a fiddler who chose to live a life of simplicity and freedom rather than seeking material wealth and status.


One of the main themes of "Fiddler Jones" is the idea of choosing one's own path in life. Fiddler Jones is presented as a man who has rejected the traditional notions of success and happiness - he does not care for wealth or status, but instead values his freedom and ability to play his fiddle. The poem celebrates his choice to live life on his own terms, and suggests that true happiness cannot be found in material possessions.

Another key theme in the poem is the idea of creativity and the power of art. Fiddler Jones is a musician, and his fiddle playing is presented as a source of joy and freedom. The poem suggests that art can be a means of transcending the limitations of everyday life, and that it is a vital part of human experience.

Finally, "Fiddler Jones" also touches on the theme of mortality. The poem ends with the image of Fiddler Jones "tuning his fiddle and rosining his bow", suggesting that he is still going strong despite his advancing age. However, the final lines of the poem also hint at the inevitability of death, reminding us that even the most free-spirited and creative individuals are ultimately subject to the same fate as everyone else.


"Fiddler Jones" is a free verse poem, meaning that it does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or meter. This style of poetry is often associated with the modernist movement, which rejected the traditional forms of poetry in favor of more experimental and unconventional styles.

Despite its lack of formal structure, the poem is carefully crafted to create a sense of rhythm and movement. The repetition of phrases such as "fiddler" and "play it" gives the poem a musical quality that echoes the subject matter of the poem. Additionally, the short, fragmented lines of the poem create a sense of urgency and motion that reflects the restless spirit of Fiddler Jones himself.


One of the most striking aspects of "Fiddler Jones" is its use of simple, everyday language. The poem is entirely in the voice of Fiddler Jones himself, and the language reflects his down-to-earth manner of speaking. There are no grand flourishes of language or complex metaphors - instead, the poem relies on simple, direct language to convey its message.

Despite its simplicity, however, the language of the poem is still rich with meaning. The repeated use of the word "fiddler" creates a sense of identity and continuity for the character of Fiddler Jones, while the phrase "play it" takes on a deeper significance as a symbol of creative expression and freedom.


Ultimately, "Fiddler Jones" is a poem about the search for meaning and happiness in life. The character of Fiddler Jones represents the ideal of the free-spirited, creative individual who chooses to live life on their own terms, without bowing to societal expectations. The poem suggests that true happiness cannot be found in material possessions or status, but rather in the pursuit of creative expression and personal freedom.

At the same time, however, "Fiddler Jones" is also a poem about mortality and the passing of time. The final lines of the poem remind us that even the most free-spirited individuals are ultimately subject to the same fate as everyone else. In this sense, the poem can be read as a reminder to live life to the fullest, to embrace our creativity and freedom while we still can.


In conclusion, "Fiddler Jones" is a beautiful and deeply meaningful poem that celebrates the power of creative expression and personal freedom. Through its simple language and careful use of repetition and imagery, the poem creates a vivid portrait of a man who has chosen to live life on his own terms, and in doing so has found true happiness and fulfillment. Whether you are a fan of poetry, or simply looking for a thought-provoking and inspiring read, "Fiddler Jones" is a must-read.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Fiddler Jones: A Masterpiece of American Literature

Edgar Lee Masters, an American poet and novelist, is best known for his collection of poems titled Spoon River Anthology. The anthology is a series of epitaphs, each one narrated by a deceased resident of the fictional town of Spoon River. One of the most famous poems from the collection is "Fiddler Jones," which tells the story of a man who chooses to live his life on his own terms, despite the expectations of society.

The poem begins with the narrator describing Fiddler Jones as a man who "played the fiddle in Spoon River." The narrator goes on to explain that Fiddler Jones was not like other men in the town. He did not care about money or fame, and he did not follow the rules of society. Instead, he lived his life according to his own values and beliefs.

The poem then takes a turn, as Fiddler Jones himself begins to speak. He explains that he was once a farmer, but he gave up farming because he did not enjoy it. Instead, he decided to become a fiddler, because he loved music and he wanted to share his passion with others. Fiddler Jones describes how he would play his fiddle in the fields, and how the music would make the crops grow better.

As the poem continues, Fiddler Jones reveals that he was not always accepted by the people of Spoon River. He was often ridiculed and mocked for his unconventional lifestyle. However, he did not let this discourage him. He continued to play his fiddle and live his life on his own terms.

The poem ends with Fiddler Jones reflecting on his life. He says that he has no regrets, and that he is proud of the way he has lived. He encourages others to follow their own dreams and passions, and to not let the expectations of society hold them back.

"Fiddler Jones" is a powerful poem that speaks to the human desire for individuality and self-expression. It is a reminder that we should not be afraid to pursue our passions, even if they are unconventional or unpopular. Fiddler Jones is a symbol of the human spirit, and his story is an inspiration to all who read it.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is its use of language. Masters' writing is simple and direct, yet it is also rich with meaning and emotion. The poem is written in free verse, which allows the words to flow freely and naturally. This style of writing is particularly effective in conveying the message of the poem, as it mirrors the free-spirited nature of Fiddler Jones himself.

Another notable feature of the poem is its structure. The poem is divided into two parts, with the first part being narrated by an unnamed speaker, and the second part being narrated by Fiddler Jones himself. This structure allows the reader to see Fiddler Jones from two different perspectives, and it adds depth and complexity to the poem.

The theme of individuality is also central to the poem. Fiddler Jones is a man who refuses to conform to the expectations of society. He chooses to live his life on his own terms, and he is not afraid to be different. This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where conformity and groupthink are often valued over individuality and creativity.

In conclusion, "Fiddler Jones" is a masterpiece of American literature. It is a powerful and inspiring poem that speaks to the human desire for individuality and self-expression. Masters' use of language and structure is masterful, and the theme of individuality is as relevant today as it was when the poem was first written. "Fiddler Jones" is a timeless work of art that will continue to inspire readers for generations to come.

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