I had also found a book of poems published in 1919 by Edgar Lee Masters of
Spoon River Anthology fame. Masters called
his collection Starved Rock, after the
poem of that name....
Later the remnant of the Illini
Climbed up this Rock, to die
Of hunger, thirst, or down its sheer ascents
Rushed on the spears of Pottawatomies,
And found the peace
Where thirst and hunger are unknown.
Masters says that the rock's secret is defeat and change. The next to the last
verse implicates us too.
This is the land where every generation
Lets down its buckets for the water of Life.
We are the children and the epigone
Of the Illini, the vanished nation.
And this starved scrap of stone
Is now the emblem of our tribulation,
The inverted cup of our insatiable thirst,
The Illini by fate accursed,
This land lost to the Pottawatomies,
They lost the land to us,
Who baffled and idolatrous,
And thirsting, spurred by hope
Kneel upon aching knees,
And with our eager hands draw up the bucketless rope. (62-3)
Dancing at Halftime (2002)