Poetry of Kansas

Raising Cane.

The other day, a farmer
     From the burnt-up strip came in.
He looked so hale and hearty
     And wore so broad a grin
That I couldn't help but ask him
     The reason of the same,
And quickly got the answer:
     "You see, I'm raising cane.
 
"The hogs will fatten on it,
     And the calves, they like it so
That__you may take my word upon it-
     You can almost see them grow!
And the chinch-bugs never touch it,
     And the 'hoppers, too, abstain;-
You're dead sure of making money
     If you're only raising cane."
 
Then my worthy friend, the farmer,
     Went forth upon his way,
To tell, no doubt, another
     How he'd been making hay.
But thru my head kept running
     The words of his refrain,
And I wondered if I'd better
     Start in to raising cane.
 
And while I pondered on it,
     My eye ran down the street
And hit that vacant eorner__
     Just forty-four front feet__
On which I 'd paid the taxes
     Ten weary years, in vain,
And I felt that I'd been raising
     What sounds a deal like cane.
 
And the winters, springs and summers
     That have fled since '79,
Passed again in swift procession,
     Sending chills adown my spine;
For I saw with clearest vision
     What calamities have lain
On a million Kansas people
     Who 'ye been-blindly raising Cain.
 
Away back in the '80's
     When we thought the earth was ours__
When the corn-fields looked like forests
     And we never lacked for showers__
When the shekels flowed from Europe,
     And New England's dollars came__
Did anybody tell ns
     We were really raising Cain?
 
Did anybody tell us,
     In those years of senseless greed,
That we were daft__plumb crazy!__
     Were sowing thick the seed
That would shortly bring a harvest
     That would be to us a bane__
That would rest a nightmare on ns,
     A true legacy of Cain?
 
No: never came a warning,
     But instead there came a Boom;
A boomerang, indeed, it was,
     And nearly struck our doom.
For almost ev'ry living thing
     Had mirages on the brain,
While town-lots sold to music__
     Oh, didn't we raise Cain!
 
And when the fuss was over
     And the pendulum swung back,
And the sheriff came to see us,
     Saying gently, "You must whack,"
Sure, we knew full well his meaning,
     And it did'nt soothe the pain
To remember our transgressions
     While we were raising Cain.
 
And you know how things went crooked
     From Beersheba unto Dan__
Went all awry, as only
     Affairs in Kansas can;
How crop failures and low prices
     And scarce a smirch of rain
Made votes to set Llewelling
     To raising still more Cain.
 
It is amazing__ very I
     It is surpassing strange
That after all we'd suffered
     From Pops and Dems and change,
When light, at last, seemed dawning,
     When we might whitewash the stain,
The G. O. P. got funny
     And went to raising Cain.
 
O my farmer friend, so jolly,
     Your cane may be all right!
But the sort of stuff that's common
     Has got us in a plight
In which I think we're bound to stay
     Until, with might and main,
We start to raising common-sense
     And quit a-raising Cain!

1896.

__Frederick J. Atwood .

Kansas Rhymes and Other Lyrics
Frederick J. Atwood
(Topeka, Kan.: Crane & Company. 1902)
Pages 18-21

 
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October 30, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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