Classics for the Seventh Grade

THE KANSAS OCTOBER

        EUGENE F. WARE (1841-1911) was born at Hartford, Connecticut, but moved to Iowa with his parents when he was a mere boy. He learned the harness-maker's trade, and worked at it until the beginning of the Civil War, when he enlisted as a private in an Iowa regiment. He remained in the service until June, 1867, attaining the rank of captain. In 1867 he moved to Fort Scott, Kansas, and engaged in the harness and saddlery business. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1871. In 1872 he became editor of the Fort Scott Monitor.

        Ware had a brilliant career in law and politics. Shortly after he was admitted to the bar he began to contribute poems to the newspapers under the name Ironquill. These poems soon won for him recognition throughout the country. Ware was especially loyal to Kansas, and a number of his poems reflect the spirit and the history of the state. In "The Kansas October" he has painted a rare picture of the Kansas autumn.

THE KANSAS OCTOBER
The cheeriness and charm
Of forest and of farm
Are merging into colors sad and sober;
The hectic frondage1 drapes
The nut trees and the grapes–
September yields to opulent2 October.

The cottonwoods that fringe
The streamlets take the tinge;
Through opal haze the sumac bush is burning;
The lazy zephyrs lisp,
Through cornfields dry and crisp,
Their fond regrets for days no more returning.

The farm dog leaves the house
To flush the timid grouse;3
The languid steers on blue-stem4 lawns are feeding;
The evening twilight sees
The rising Pleiades,5
While autumn suns are to the south receding.

To me there comes no thrill
Of gloominess or chill,
As leaflets fade from branches elm or oaken,
As lifelessly they hang,
To me there comes no pang;
To me no grief the falling leaves betoken.

As summer's floral gems
Bequeath us6 withered stems,
And autumn-shattered relics dry and umber7;
So do these lives of ours,
Like summer leaves and flowers,
Flourish apace,8 and in their ripeness slumber.
–EUGENE F. WARE.

From " Rhymes of Ironquill," by Eugene F. Ware. Used by permission of E. H. Ware.

EXERCISES
  1. Terms for definition and study: merging, hectic, frondage, opulent, tinge, opal haze, zephyrs, flush, languid, Pleiades, receding, pang, betoken, relics, apace.
  2. Explain, "opulent October."
  3. Explain how autumn suns recede to the south.
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  1. Hectic frondage. Pinkish red foliage.
  2. Opulent. Rich; abundant.
  3. Flush the timid grouse. To startle the prairie chickens from their hiding places.
  4. Blue-stem. A tall, jointed, wild grass, formerly common on the prairies of eastern Kansas.
  5. Pleiades. A group of stars in the constellation Taurus.
  6. Bequeath us. Leave to us after death.
  7. Umber. Of a dusky hue; dark.
  8. Flourish apace. Pass rapidly on.
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Web Note: The layout of the content above is modeled as closely as possible on pages 40 & 41 of the book:

Thoroman, A. M. & Davis, H. M. - Editors
Classics for the Kansas Schools, Seventh Grade
(Topeka: State of Kansas. 1918)

The Wellington Carnegie Library has a copy.


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September 30, 1998 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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