You praise my self-sacrifice, Spoon River,
In rearing Irene and Mary,
Orphans of my older sister!
And you censure Irene and Mary
For their contempt for me!
But praise not my self-sacrifice,
And censure not their contempt;
I reared them, I cared for them, true enough!-
But I poisoned my benefactions
With constant reminders of their dependence.
Constance Hately was a girl who had a sister, who was older than she. Her sister died but had two children, Irene and Mary, and Constance cared for them. The inhabitants of Spoon River believed that Constance was happy about this and nobody knew that she made a big sacrifice and she ruined her good actions by holding against the two girls all she had done. The small village also believed that the two girls were bad with Constance, so people used to look at Irene and Mary with contempt, because they didn’t know how Constance behaved with them. Actually we don’t know anything about the death of the character, but the message she left is that sometimes people are not as they appear.