Poetry of Kansas

Choice.

Fair and sweet is the face of a child,
    Where sin has left no trace;
Lovely the brow uncovered by care,
    And the fresh lips' smiling grace;
Sweet as the dawn are the clear young eyes,
    Where trouble has found no place.
 
Yet 'tis a world of trouble and care,
    Where the child has entered in;
A world of toil and of eager strife,
    Where only the brave may win;
A world where the wicked watch for prey;
    A world that is dark with sin.
 
O children, innocent ones!
    Life is not what it seems
To you___at play on its border land,
    Or smiling in rosy dreams___
'Tis no soft vale, where the lotus rocks
    On bosoms of silent streams.
 
Life is a battle and all must fight,
    Who would sing the victor's song;
Life is a race and the goal is far___
    If happen that life be long___
Yet is the race not all to the swift,
    And the battle is not to the strong.
 
Who, then, shall win in the race, in the fight:
    He who is steady and true;
Who gives the best of his heart and soul
    To the good that he finds to do;
By naught dismayed and by naught seduced
    Constant his whole life through.
 
Steadfastly treading the old, old way
    That the faithful have trod before;
Patiently scaling the same rough steps,
    Bearing the cross you bore;___
Ever with face set toward the gates
    That gleam on the shining shore.
 
Steadfastly battle without
    And steadfastly foes within___
For never human hearts, but feel
    Some taint of its origin___
Triumphant now. now weeping sore,
    And crying, "forgive my sin."
 
Soldier is he with no bannered pride,
    Nor in gorgeous trappings dressed,
No boom of cannon, no trumpet blast,
    No tossing plumed crest___
Are heard or seen or the field of strife
    That lies in his throbbing breast.
 
Such is he, and such is the life
    Of many a striving one___
Hunted, buffeted, snare beset;
    Wounded, yet pressing on;___
Little he knows of peace or rest,
    Till the war is over and done.
 
Ever for model the perfect Christ___
    Though he but half attain;___
Perfect never, yet, scanned beside
    A life of need and gain,
A selfish pleasure, of slothful ease,___
    How grand his toil and pain;
 
You are young, and careless, and gay___
    Standing where two roads meet___
Choose, ere the evil days draw nigh,
    Whither shall land your feet!
Time has wings, and thc years sweep on
    And life is but frail and fleet.
 
Choose! Will you take for guide or friend
    The teacher of Gallilee___
Loving, forgiving, denying self,
    Bidding the Tempter flee;
Treading the billows when passion is high,
    As Jesus trod on the sea?
 
Can you? and will you? oh, but try,
    Falling, yet try again,
On the wreck of to-day's defeat,
    Build for to-morrow's gain,
Effort is noble;___Striving still,
    Ye shall not strive in vain.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 40-42

 
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March 30, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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