Poetry of Kansas

Farmer Jones on Corn.

How's corn to-day ma'am? And why should you wish to
Do such things bother a woman? Well, it is low.
I'm posted - you see I have been with a load to town.
It is weak, as they say in reports, and it's going down.
Hard times for farmers like me__ and with rent so high!
The chinch bugs come like an army, the summer was dry;
It was scorching drouth and the chinch bug, and now it is
          the bears:
And that takes me down to hard pan, but who__ dares?
"Hold on to your corn," say the papers, I would if I could.
For those who can take this advice, the advice is good.
But I've got to sell for there is the rent to pay.
And other debts falling due__ I've been dunned to-day.
I promise to pay, I find is a master stern.
And it's not for me to wait for the tide to rise.
To sell at the ebb, when so little there is to sell,
Seems rather rough, but the buyers__they like it well.
The rich grow richer, the poor man grows poorer still,
For if things get to going wrong it's all down hill.
He must sell for whatever the buyer may choose to pay.
And of prices of things he buys has nothing to say.
It is hard to be poor. Would the greedy rich but think
Of the sweat and toil that earned the gold they chink.
I fancy that pins would be stuck in their beds of down,
And their ill-gotten wealth would prick like a thorny crown.
It is hard to be poor: but I'd rather be poor than own
The wealth that some men squeeze out of blood and bone.
If the bed is hard where I gather my weary feet.
No specters haunt my pillow and my sleep is sweet.
I am growing old and my hair is growing gray;
I have done a deal of work for but little pay;
But I hope for the best__ there are some who see these
And who speak for the farmers in spite of moneyed kings.
I've made a good deal of talk, ma'am__but that's my way
To answer your simple question, "How's corn to-day?"
I wish that the great might hear and understand
That the good of the working man is the good of the land.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 246-247

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November 23, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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