Poetry of Kansas

Kansas, the Prairie Queen.

In the heart of the country we love so well,
    Two mighty oceans midway between,
On grassy plain and on billowy swell,
    Sits in her beauty the Prairie Queen.
She hears not the song of the solemn sea,
    Nor the roar of cataracts mountain-born;
No lofty peaks, rock-ribbed has she,
    With white hoods piercing the clouds of morn.
No white sails glide over lakes asleep;
    She boasts no placers of golden sands.
Her ships are the "schooners" that westward creep,
    And her richest mines are her fertile lands.
For aught she lacketh___this Prairie Queen___
    Aught of mountain, or lake or sea,___
There are wide, wine plains and billows green___
    Room for uncounted hosts has she.
Her soil is deep and her winds blow free;
    There are belts of timber and quiet creeks;
And rivers at brow, at breast, and knee,
    Fed by the snows on western peaks.
God made the land, and man makes the State.
    As the hand of the Maker has made her fair,
So honest labor has made her great,
    And wrought the robes she was born to wear.
There was once a time___not so long ago___
    When all this land was a grassy sea,
Shook by the tramp of the buffalo,
    Trod on by savages fierce and free.
Another time. On the winds was born
    A cry for help___when the settlers stood
Battling for freedom___when, rent and torn,
    She, was christened with fire and baptized in blood.
Flame, and rope, and bullet, and knife
    Did their work, while the world looked on;
But the fair young State came out of the strife
    Famous, glorious___for Freedom won.
There were heroes then; and we see to-day
    What a rich growth sprang where their blood was sown___
Why slavery trembled___for these were they
    Who drove the wedge that toppled her throne.
Dark days and stern! remembered still
    By pleasant fireside, by peaceful stream,
As one remembers with shuddering thrill
    The horror and fright of some evil dream.
With "Bleeding Kansas" how fares it now ?
    Her cup of plenty, her smile serene,
She sits at peace with untroubled brow.
    She is rich, she is great, she is crowned a Queen!
Her prairies are decked with peaceful homes,
    Nestled, like dove-cotes, in clumps of green;
Fair cities rise with their spires and domes,
    And reaches of railway stretched between.
The cattle by thousands that dot her plains,
    The stacks, like tents, on her bosom borne;
The grain sacks, heaped on the loaded wains;
    Her stately forests of ripening corn;
Her quarries, where palaces, towers and spires
    Wait but the hands and the skill to form;
The masses of coal, which feed the fires
    That drives her engines and keeps her warm;___
All these are wealth; yet a greater wealth
    She holds in her children___her boys and girls___
Their faces bright with the tints of health,
    With their laughing eyes and their tossing curls.
The country boy with the bare, brown feet,
    Tripping to school with his books and slate,
May climb some day to the highest seat___
    In some great crisis may save the state.
Little he thinks, at his books or play,
    While the warm blood mantles his "cheek of tan,"
Of the work of the years that stretch away;
    Yet the careless boy is the coming man.
And the little girl, with her dimples sweet,
    Her red lips fresh as the morning dew,
Her silvery laugh, and her dancing feet,
    Is the coming woman, tender and true.
The boy, the girl, in their childish grace
    Conning their school tasks, day by day___
These are they who shall take our place,
    When we are at rest and laid away.
We are proud of Kansas, the beautiful Queen,
    And proud are we of her fields of corn;
But a nobler pride than these, I ween,
    Is our pride in her children, Kansas born!

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
by Ellen P. Allerton
Collected and Published by Eva Ryan
(Hiawatha: The Harrington Printing Co. 1894)
Pages 37-39

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December 1, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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