What Is the Theme of “Lucinda Matlock”?

The theme of the poem “Lucinda Matlock” by Edgar Lee Masters is determination and the enjoyment of living a full life. Lucinda Matlock, the main character, narrates the poem from beyond the grave after she dies at the age of 96.

“Lucinda Matlock” is one of a collection of Edgar Lee Masters’ poems titled “Spoon River Anthology.” The narrators of the poems are all dead and buried in a cemetery on a hill that overlooks the imaginary Spoon River.

In her poem, Lucinda Matlock recounts the happenings of her life over the last 96 years. She describes how she met her husband of 70 years, had 12 children, and kept her house and nursed the sick once she turned 60. Matlock reminisces about running over the green hills and through the fields around the Spoon River and how she passed away when she had enough of life at the age of 96.

Lee Masters also describes the extreme hardship that Matlock faced throughout her life. For example, eight of her 12 children passed away before Matlock died. However, even with these hardships, the determination of the old woman is punctuated at the end of the poem when she says “What is this I hear of sorrow and weariness, anger, discontent and drooping hopes? Degenerate sons and daughters, life is too strong for you. It takes life to love life.”