Poetry of Kansas

My Slain.

This sweet child which hath climbed upon my knee,
    This amber-haired, four-summered little maid,
With her unconscious beauty troubleth me,
    With her low prattle maketh me afraid.
Ah! darling, when you cling and nestle so,
    You hurt me, though you do not see me cry,
Nor hear the weariness with which I sigh
    Nor the dear babe I killed so long ago.
I tremble at the touch of your caress;
    I am not worthy of your innocent faith;
I who, with whetted knives of worldliness,
    Did put my own child-heartedness to death__
Beside whose grave I pace forever more,
    Like desolation on a ship-wrecked shore.

Thereis no little child within me now
    sing back to the thrushes, to leap up
When June winds kiss me, when an apple bough
    Laughs into blossom, or a buttercup
Plays with the sunshine, or a violet
    Dances in the glad crew. Alas! alas!
The meaning of the daisies in the grass
    I have forgotten; and if my cheeks are wet,
It is not with the blitheness of a child,
    But with the bitter sorrow of sad years.
O moaning life with life irreconciled;
    O backward-looking thought, O pain, O tears!
For us there is not any silver sound
    Of rhythmic wonders springing from the ground.

Woe worth the knowledge and the bookish lore
    Which makes men munnnies; weighs out every grain
Of that which was miraculous before,
    And sneers the heart down with the scoffing brain;
Woe worth the peering, analytic days
    That dry the tender juices in the breast,
And put the thunders of the Lord to test,
    So that no marvel must be, and no praise,
Nor any God except Necessity.
    What can ye give my poor starved life in lieu
Of this dead cherub which I slew for you?
    Take back your doubtful wisdom and renew
My early foolish freshness of the dunce
    Whose simple instincts guessed the heavens at once.

__Richard Realf.

Kansas In Literature__Part I. Poetry
Introduction by William Herbert Carruth
(Topeka: Crane & Co. 1900)
Pages 42-43

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September 20, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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