Poetry of Kansas


"Man wants but little here below,
    Nor wants that little long."
A gentle, genial bard was he
    Who put that in his song.
It should have been some Anchorite,
    Who, bound his flesh to slaughter,
Employed his days in counting beads,
    And lived on roots and water.
He must have had, it seems to me,
    A most contented mind,
And must have known but little of
    That genus called mankind.
Who little wants, nor wants that long,
    Is only half a human.
Man's wants are many, and, I own,
    'Tis much the same with woman.
For instance I___and I suppose
    That I am like the rest___
Have many wants that stir and fret
    In my unquiet breast.
So many minus quantities
    Come into my equation,
To name them all would go beyond
    The scope of numeration.
I want my daily bread___and that
    Includes a bill of fare
That, for its comprehensiveness,
    Would make our poet stare.
Not all the fruits of every clime
    Were I content with having;
Not all the cooks of all the world
    Could satisfy my craving.
I want the strongest kinds of meats
    To fill my larder lean;
I want the words of all the wise
    That are or aye have been.
And then I want the power to choose
    From out the vast collation;
I want to know, where now I toss
    In doubt and speculation.
I want, beside, such solid fare,
    All tender household words,
I want the lays of poets and
    The songs of summer birds.
And then I want my friends___a few
    Who know me well, yet love me,
And who, should swift disaster come,
    Would not be sure to shove me.
I want both will and strength to rise
    Above all hurtful things;
I want to be an angel___but
    I was not born with wings.
I want___but it occurs to me
    That space and type are finite.
Should I go on, the printer would
    "Respectfully decline" it.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 44-45

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

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