What does the Amelia Garrick poem in Spoon River Anthology mean?

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Spoon River Anthology is a collection of epitaphs for residents of a small American town in the form of short poems. Amelia Garrick begins her poem by remarking on the obscurity of her burial place, “close to a stunted rose bush.” Even in death, Amelia is a complete contrast to the unnamed addressee, “a leader in New York.” The other woman has left Spoon River to marry “a noted millionaire” and is now a socialite who appears to have everything, though Amelia admits that perhaps “the mirage of distance” plays its part in making her life appear so perfect. The contrast between the two women is emphasized by repetition and parallelism:

You have succeeded, I have failed
You are alive, I am dead.

Although the poem is eighteen lines long, it has the same structure as and similar proportions to a sonnet. The sestet begins with a turn:

Yet I know that I vanquished your spirit;

The brilliant, beautiful doyenne of Manhattan society remains, according to the speaker, under her thrall,...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 975 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 30, 2019