Poetry of Kansas

The Talking Fiend.

Sad is his fate, we may well suppose.
    To whose pillow at dead of night,
Comes a ghost in diaphanous clothes,
    And stands there, still and white.
It wouldn't be pleasant for you or me____
    The ghost that in silence stalks;___
But worse than a silent ghost can be,
    Is the fiend who always talks.
As to spiteful spirits, black or gray,
    If you keep your conscience clear.
And a horseshoe over the door. they say,
    Not one will venture near.
But there's nothing yet, as I've heard tell.
    That can lay this thing of evil.
Not saintly purity, charm, or spell,
    Can banish the talking devil.
There are bolts and bars for midnight crime.
    Which in darkness prowls about;
But the thief who filches your precious time,
    There's nothing to keep him out.
Of all life's miseries dread and dire,
    Have sorrowful poets sung;
But worse than famine, or flood, or fire,
    Is the fiend with the ceaseless tongue.
You know him; he calls himself your friend;
    But your deadliest enemy,
Who presses hate to the bitter end,
    Is more of a friend than he.
Does he dwell with you? At your table sit?
    Then pack up your traps and fly!
Or be talked to death___and I've heard that "it
    Is a terrible death to die."
Should the fiend read this, he'll not look grim,
    But a smile shall his visage mellow.
He'll never dream it is meant for him,
    But he'll think or some other fellow.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 108-109

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June 8, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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