Poetry of Kansas

To The Dandelion.

Bright, wayward flower that coverest all my lawn,
    With the rich hue that blurs the jaundiced eye,
Would I could use thee for a pawn
    At some brave shop whereto the passerby
By triple balls of thine own color's drawn.
    Could I once pledge thee for but just enough
    Of yellow dust, oft called "the stuff,"
I'd think so kindly of thee that, I swear,
Rather than mar thy rest I'd leave thee there.
 
When first I met thee in this Western clime,
    What transports filled __ aye, overflowed __ my heart:
A friendly face was thine,
    Which to my soul didst unexpected joy impart,
I had not seen thee for so long a time.
    Oh, thou wast dear to me in childhood's days,
    And when in summer's haze
Thy head had lost its gold and all turned white,
I blew thy hair out by the roots, in keen delight.
 
Thy strong, aspiring, hollow stem I split
    And made long ringlets, spirals, odd-shaped wheels__
For nature put a curl in it.
    So when I found thee, then I cracked my heels
In glee, and down upon the grass did sit
    And gloat upon my treasure. Thou didst call
    Such memories up, that, sure for all
The world, it seemed the wheel of time had slipped,
And thirty years had vanished when it tripped.
 
And so it was I nursed thee tenderly,
    And guarded thee from harm of every kind,__
Preserved thee for futurity.
    Spring came again; and then my anxious mind
Was gladdened by thy face and progeny.
    O joy! O rapture! All my watchful care
    Bore fruit beyond my dreams; for there,
With full a hundred faces, thou didst smile,
And all my fears for thee didst quick beguile.
 
Another springtime came: thou didst show up
    As usual__only more, a thousand fold!
Rare happiness o'erflowed my cup-
    It did, indeed I__But mark me, I do hold
A good thing overdone were best done up!
    Thou overdidst thyself__that's just thy fix:
    Thy wondrous, thy amazing tricks
Of reproduction were, it seems,
The reason why I took thy leaves for greens,
 
And cut thy legionary head off when in bloom__
    Did many things which one should take amiss.
But thou tookst gladly, as a boon,
    And throve the more, and seemingly in bliss
At my ill-tempered treatment, called for room,
    More room, yet more in which to spread thyself.
    Now I would swap thee off for pelf,
For of thy charms too prodigal art thou;
Thou'd have the earth with half a chance, I vow.
 
O Dandelion! it grieves me much that thou
    Hast fallen from thy high estate, and come
To what I see thee now__
    A pest! a first-class nuisance! I 'm dumb:
It almost breaks my heart! My head I bow
    In abject sorrow that thou, a Yankee herb,
    Of whose bright virtues all have heard,
Whose praises have gone forth in noble song,
Shouldst ever have come West and gone so wrong!

1891.

__Frederick J. Atwood .

Kansas Rhymes and Other Lyrics
Frederick J. Atwood
(Topeka, Kan.: Crane & Company. 1902)
Pages 22-24

 
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October 30, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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