Graphic from the book for the top of even-numbered pages

Sunflowers in the Corn

There's a certain day in summer that I always
          recognize,
    Though I'm far away from prairie land and sun,
By the pulling at my heart-strings and the aching in
          my eyes,
    And I know that back in Kansas, harvest's done.
The mellow sun is gleaming on the stacks of ripened
          wheat,
    The stubble-field is empty and forlorn;
With a hoe across my shoulder and barefooted in
          the heat,
    I am off to cut the sunflowers in the corn.
 
Oh, what mystery of magic down the green and
          gracious aisles,
    Lures me on and on forever to the end;
The flapping corn is whispering while summer bends
          and smiles;
    The warm, wind scampers, shouting, "Follow
          friend."
He is all about me tugging, with his shoulder pressed
          to mine,
    "Come and catch me, don't you feel my circling
          arm?
Oh, there never was a farmer boy with comrade such
          as thine;
See, I flush thy cheek with kisses, what's the
          harm?"
 
The corn is waving o'er me and the swelling ears
          are sweet
    Where the silver floss is pushing from the white.
What a wealth of scarletmallow bloom is crimsoning
          my feet;
    There's a turtle--watch him scramble out of site.
Why, there's every prairie creature hereafter dove
          upon her nest;
    Two white eggs beneath a friendly cockle-bur;
Lucky thing for'you, old cocky. You're a most out-
          rageous pest,
    But I'll pass you by because you shelter her.
 
Here's a sunflower--watch him nodding with his
          saucy, swarthy face,
    Golden ear-ringed,, don't you see the gypsy king?
Amber beads bedangled o'er him with a frankly,
          flaunting grace;
    How he jostles Mr. Cornstalk, poor old thing.
Here, you'll have to stop,it, Tony, for you quite
          forget that you
    Are a tramp, for all gaudy, gilded crown;
You're a vagrant, and a dead-beat; you're a non-
          producer,too,
And I've come to chop you, Tony--tumble down.
 
What a revelation dawning, what a wonder over-
          head,
    All the tender, over-arching azure dome.
With the sun ablaze above. me, is it prairie paths I
          tread ?
    No, 'tis fairyland, 'tis fairyland I roam.
Titania is swinging in a silken hammock hung
    From burly thistle-top to goldenrod;
There's a Puck on every jimson-weed where once a
          spider swung,
    While milk-weeds chamber Pixies in each pod.
 
Oh, 'tis fairyland, 'tis fairyland, and I a warrior
          stout,
    With saber-steel a-flashing in the sun.
How I charge the crazy gypsy kings and put them
          all to rout;
    Watch the long battalions waver, break, and run.
Hark, I hear a bugle calling me, the battle-pennons
          gleam.
    Forward--once again the supper-horn
And I wander home at twilight (Can it be I only
          dream?)
    From a day of awful carnage in the corn.
___Willard Wattles
 
Sunflowers, A Book of Kansas Poems
Selected by Willard Wattles
pages 88-90
(Chicago: A. C. McClurg. 1916)
 
July 18, 2004 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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