Poetry of Kansas

Westward.

When eastern snows are melting and the south wind softly
          blows,
The old hives swarm, and westward the Star of Empire goes.
"Westward ho!" is ever the watchword of the spring;
As sure as birds fly northward, is this a settled thing.
 
'Tis heard again in autumn, when crops are gathered in___
When the corn is in the barn and the wheat is in the bin.
Westward, and ever westward, the long, white wagons creep,
Through towns and open country, and forests dark and deep.
 
Westward___women and children, bearded and stalwart
          men___
From stern New England hillside, from wild and rocky glen;
From steeps of the Alleghanies, where bleak winds fiercely
          blow;
And down whose crags of granite roll storms of sleet and
          snow.
 
Westward___from o'er the ocean a crowd comes pressing on,
Russian, Norwegian, German___all bloods under the sun
Here meet and mingle kindly. As all the world doth know,
When other lands are full, hither rolls the overflow.
 
Westward, and ever westward, the peaceful army comes___
Workmen for better wages, the homeless seeking homes;
Young men-life all before them, with all that life endears___
And old men, faint and weary, with the bootless toil of
          years.
 
Still they come, and still we greet them with the clasp of
          friendly hand;
Still they flood and swell our cities, still they spread across
          the land;
Westward, westward___led or followed by the headlight's
          ghostly gleam,
While lonely wilds are startled by the engine's eerie scream.
 
On bare, wide slopes the dug-out yields shelter safe and sure,
And from its fireside altar floats incense sweet and pure.
Beside the lowly door sits the grandsire old and gray,
While round him, tanned and merry, the barefoot children
          play.
 
The sod, upturned, wooes surely the sunshine and the rain;
Anon the swells are golden with seas of waving grain.
Where all was bare and barren, thick stand the clustered
          sheaves;
Where all was bare and treeless, winds whisper through the
          leaves.
 
Towns spring as by enchantment along the great frontier;
Where the owl dwelt silent, solemn, with the prairie dog
          last year,
Now stands the store and school house, and church with
          steeple white,
In a city reared by magic, like the gourd that grew in a
          night.

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 46-47

 
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March 19, 2003 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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