Logo showing the words Poetry of Kansas

Kansas: 1874 __ 1884.


 
(Written upon the departure of the corn train from El Dorado for the relief of the Ohio flood sufferers , April 6, 1884)
 
1874__PER ASPERA.
 
Cheerless prairie stretching southward,
   Barren prairies stretching north ;
Not a green herb, fresh and sturdy,
   From the hard earth springing forth.
Every tree bereft of foliage,
   Every shrub devoid of life,
And the two great ills seemed blighting
   All things in their wasting strife.
 
As the human heart, in anguish,
   Sinks beneath the stroke of fate,
So at last, despairing, weary,
   Bowed the great heart of our State.
She had seen her corn-blades wither
   'Neath the hot wind's scorching breath;
She had seen the wheat-heads bending
   To the sting of cruel death.
 
She had seen the plague descending
   Thro' the darkened, stifling air,
And she bent her head in sorrow,
   Breathing forth a fervent prayer.
And the fierce winds, growing fiercer,
   Kissed to brown her forehead fair,
While the sun shone down unpitying
   On the brownness of her hair.
 
Then she looked into the future,
   Saw the winter, ruthless, bold,
Bringing her disheartened people
   Only hunger, want and cold.
Looking, saw her barefoot children
   Walk where snow-sprites shrink to tread;
Listening, heard their child-lips utter
   Childish prayers for daily bread.
 
Low she bowed her bead, still thinking
   O'er her people's woes and weal,
And the ones anear her only
   Heard the words of her appeal.
Send that faint cry onward, outward,
   Swift as wire wings can bear,
"Sisters, help me or I perish–
 Heaven pity my despair!"
 
1884__AD ASTRA.
 
Verdant wheat-fields stretching southward
   Fruitful Orchards east and west
Not a spot in all the prairie
   That the springtime has not blessed.
Every field a smiling, promise,
   Every home an Eden fair,
And the angels, Peace and Plenty,
   Strewing blessings everywhere.

As the heart of nature quivers
   At the touch of spring-time fair,
So along the State's wide being
   Thrilled the answer to her prayer.
She has seen her dauntless people
   Ten times turn and sow the soil
She has seen the same earth answer
   Ten times to their faithful toil.

She has felt the ripe fruit falling
   In her lap from bended limbs
She has heard her happy children
   Shouting their thanksgiving hymns,
She has seen ten golden harvests ;
   Now, with grateful joy complete,
She has poured the tenth, guerdon,
   At her benefactor's feet.

Thou canst not forget, O Kansas,
   All thine own despair and woe;
Who hath long and keenly suffered
   Can the tenderest pity show.
Not in vain the needy calleth-
   Charity her own repays,
And thy bread, cast on the waters,
   Will return ere many days.

Peace, thine angel, pointeth upward,
   Where the gray clouds break away;
And athwart the azure heavens
   Shineth forth Hope's placid ray.
Look to Heaven and to the future
   Grieve no longer o'er the past;
Through thy trials, God bless thee, Kansas
   See, the stars appear at last.

 
Hattie Horner, Whitewater, Kansas
 
(Horner, Hattie. Selections of Kansas Poetry. Topeka: 1891)
 
March 27, 2001 / John & Susan Howell / howell@kotn.org

Blue Skyways Visit the Home Page for Kansas
  A service of the Kansas State Library
Kansas on the Net