Poetry of Kansas


A city set in the open places,
Swept by the sun, the wind, and the rain;
Built by the heart and the brain
For contented labor as well as for gain;
Dwelling and street full of foreign faces
Sullen once in alley and hovel,
Far beyond seas,
Where kings make the masses grovel;
Now, for better or worse,
For blessing or curse,
Changeable, changing with American destinies.
Beyond the Spanish bayonet bloom
And sprawling vetch,
The great shops loom and stretch,
And there is room
In the wide, bare yard
For many a massive car
Whereon the paint is growing hard
Ere they rumble to regions near and far--
Gliding, creaking, rolling, lunging,
Where the mountain brook is plunging
While the helper engine screeches,
Where the silent prairie reaches,
Treeless, under the evening star.
Numbered, and named
For places obscure or places famed--
Epic names of a spacious land
Where the searchlights glare and the engines bellow
From Atlantic surf to Pacific strand:
Mt. Hood, New Amsterdam,
Berkshire Hills and Pocatello,
Pensacola, Bellingham,
Edmonton, St. Paul, Marquette,
La Jolla, Monticello,
Lancaster and Everett.
Spick and span!
Made and mounted according to plan.
A month, a year, who therein will ride?
The bridegroom unto his bride;
The senator in his pride;
The girl from Bar Harbor, brown with tan,
Returning to St. Mary's School;
California's really one great man;
The widow, homeward to years of dearth;
The young man back from New Mexico,
Still with racking cough and cheeks aglow,
Whirled toward peace in his native Delaware earth;
Within the stateroom a lazy fool,
A praying saint in an upper berth.
Now, ere the sun is set,
Steal down to the marshes of Calumet;
Push out in an old row-boat,
Leisurely float Across the pools, among the weeds,
While the red-winged blackbirds flash and sing;
Searching again and again
Till--there, a nest of the tiny marsh wren,
Dainty, wonderful, down in the reeds.
Pullman, set in the open places,
Where the riveting hammers are harsh;
With its medley of many races,
With its tiny birds in the marsh!

__Selden Lincoln Whitcomb

Contemporary Kansas Poetry
Helen Rhoda Hoopes
pages 124-125
(Kansas City: Joseph D. Havens Company. 1927)

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August 1, 2004 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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