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Life of a Generic Genius

Life of a Generic Genius “Walter Simmons”, written by Edgar Lee Masters, is a narrative poem on life of an average genius. Throughout, readers can see how seemingly normal Walter’s life was, and how everyone expected him to be “as great as Edison, or greater”, just because he seemed to excel and take a large interest in the objects and world around him. Masters talks about how as a child, Walter made toys, trinkets, and art, and for that his parents thought he would become a prodigy genius, as some might say. Edgar Lee Masters’ poem, “Walter Simmons”, uses certain figurative language, imagery, and a form lacking patterns to interpret the message: never give up.

Masters uses a wide variety of words and sound devices to chalk up Walter Simmons character and upbringing. He uses several forms of alliteration within the poem, such as “playing, painted pictures” (Masters), and “watched and waited” (Masters). Walter was a bright child growing up, and at a young age he had what some readers might say, talent. That might goes as far as to what Masters was saying, for Walter painting pictures and playing the cornet, which is a brass instrument. There was a form of repetition used in line 14 when Masters started talking about Walter’s adult life just starting: “Thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking-“ (Masters). At the age of twenty-one, Walter decided he had to grow up and really start his life, so he married off and applied himself to “the trade of making watches” (Masters). Walters seemed to not feel that his life was fulfilled, so he would constantly be “thinking, thinking, thinking” of his studies and his dream to have built an engine. Masters again used a form of alliteration, when talking about how Walter’s town- Spoon River- “watched and waited” for Walter’s dream engine to work. The alliteration and repetition come to put emphasis and meaning to Spoon River & Walter’s thoughts and actions.            Masters again uses a strange form and figurative language to give more meaning to who Walter Simmons really is. With the narrative poem seeming to have no rhyme scheme and a sense of blank verse, it almost adds to Walter Simmons life, in a sense. To further explain, the narrative side is telling us life from Walter’s point of view, while the rhyme less scheme adds to how this is Walter’s reality, not a Dr. Seuss book. It shows how Walter feels and thinks, and adding the figurative language used, it contributes to his charisma. In the first few lines, Masters says, “My parents thought that I would be as great as Edison or greater:” (Masters), showing that the expectations for him were set high as such a young age. With Walter Simmons being such a bright boy, he seemed to want to live up to that, seeing that he was showcasing his brains.