Graphic from the book for the top of even-numbered pages

The Prairie Pioneers.

He builded a house of sod on the slope of a prairie
      knoll;
He builded in praise of God, content with the scan-
      ty dole.
He had builded a nest in the grass, as the ground-
      squirrels burrow low;
And hither he led a laughing lass in the days of
          long ago.
      He was a lad and she was a maid;
      Their hearts were glad; they were unafraid
          Of the world and its waiting woe.
 
The prairie wind in her face tumbled her tresses
      down,
The sensitive rose, in its grace, clung to her cotton
      gown.
The prairie dog beat a retreat and watched them
      mournful-eyed,
And the buffalo grass beneath her feet said: "Woe
          to the prairie bride!"
      He was a husband and she was a wife;
      A-foot in the daisy fields of life;
          They would not be denied.
 
Who did the law ordain, who wrote the dread
      decree
That into the desert plain the children of men
      should flee?
Into a treeless land, the land of little rain,
Pressed and driven by penury's hand, shackled
          with poverty's chain;
      Youth to sicken and love to die,
Beauty blasted and hope gone dry,
          And grief in a maddened brain.
 
Ever the hot wind blew, sapping the famished
      corn;
The night, unblessed by dew, fevered the breath
      of morn.
A man agape at the skies where no cloud fleeces
      go;
Weeping, the broken woman lies in the dugout's
          furnace glow.
      His hope, like the sod corn, curls and wilts;
      She writhes on a bed of cotton quilts
          In a mother's nameless woe.
 
O, wind, you are hellish hot; death is the song you
      sing;
The eggs in the quail's nest rot under her tortured
      wing.
Dust in a choking cloud wavers and sifts and flies;
Dust is the dead babe's pauper shroud; on her sick
          breast it lies.
      The sod corn crumbles and blows away,
      Chaff in the clouds of smoking clay,
          Surging against the skies;
 
He builded a house of sod on the slope of a prairie
      knoll;
He builded in praise of God, content with the
      scanty dole.
He had builded a nest in the grass, as the ground-
      squirrels burrow low:
And hither he led a laughing lass in the days of
          long ago.
      He was a lad and she was a maid;
      Their hearts were glad; they were unfraid
          Of the world and its waiting woe.

__C. L. Edson.

Sunflowers, A Book of Kansas Poems
Willard Wattles
(Chicago: A. C. McClurg. 1916)
Pages 25-27

 
Kansas:   Poetry   History   Towns   Counties   Colleges   Libraries   Museums

September 29, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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