Poetry of Kansas

A Race For Life.

Somebody must probe that hidden vein__
   Somebody must clear that under-ground way
For the choked-up stream- and so the twain
   Whose story I tell, went down that day.
Were they heroes? Only two working men,
   With mud-stained clothes, and rough-shod feet,;
But somebody loved them__life was, then,
   Something to cling to, dear and sweet.
Overhead the beautiful sunshine lay,
   Yet they toiled in darkness, save the beam
Of one dim lantern, that showed the way,
   And flashed on the walls its ghostly gleam.
Far from the entrance an awful sound
   Arose behind them__the horrible roar
Of the pent-up waters, just unbound,
   Surging, swelling, like tides on the shore.
Quick, to the entrance! the stream sweeps on!
   Fear lends them wings__a misstep, a fall;
Then pitchy darkness__the light is gone!
   They must feel the way by the slimy wall.
With cold, numb hands, and careful feet,
   They have threaded the passage and stand below
The vaulted entrance; here horrors meet__
   The ladder is gone in the surge and flow!
Up to the armpits the water lies,
   And now to the neck; the lips, the brow
Well go under next, as the black tides rise;
   Can anything, anything save them now'?
Something comes floating. A shout, a cry,
   "The ladder! Here, comrade, make steady feet;
I hold it__you mount, and then will I__"
   "Thank God was ever daylight so sweet?"

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 200-201

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September 11, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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