Quivera - Kansas


by Eugene Ware

In that half-forgotten era,
With the avarice of old,
Seeking cities that were told
To be paved with solid gold
In the kingdom of Quivera -

Came the restless Coronado

To the open Kansas Plain
With his knights from sunny Spain;
In an effort, that, tho' vain,
Thrilled with boldness and bravado.

League by league, in aimless marching,

Knowing scarcely where or why,
Crossed they uplands drear and dry,
That an unprotected sky
Had for centuries been parching.

But their expectations, eager,

Found, instead of fruitful lands,
Shallow streams and shifting sands,
Where the buffalo in bands
Roamed o'er deserts dry and meager.

Back to scenes more trite, more tragic,

Marched the knights with armor'd steeds;
Not for them the quiet deeds;
Not for them to sow the seeds
From which empires grow like magic.

Never land so stricken

Could a Latin race remold;
They could conquer heat or cold -
Die for glory or for gold -
But not make a desert quicken.

Thus Quivera was forsaken;

And the world forgot the place,
Until centuries apace
Came the blue-eyed Saxon race,
And it bid the desert waken.

And it bade the climate vary;

And awaiting no reply
From the elements on high,
It with plows besieged the sky,
Vexed the heavens with the prairie.

Then the vitreous sky relented,

And the unacquainted rain
Fell upon the thirsty plain,
Whence had gone the knights of Spain,
Disappointed, discontented.

Sturdy are the Saxon faces,

As they move along in line;
Bright the rolling cutters shine,
Charging up the State's incline
As an army storms a glacis.

Into loam the sand is melted,

And the bluegrass takes the loam,
Round about the prairie home;
And the locomotives roam
Over landscapes iron belted.

Cities grow where stunted birches

Hugged the shallow water line,
And the deepening rivers twine
Past the factory and mine,
Orchard slopes and schools and churches.

Deeper grows the soil and truer,

More and more the prairie teems
With a fruitage as of dreams;
Clearer, deeper, flow the streams;
Blander grows the sky, and bluer.

We have made the State of Kansas

And to-day she stands complete -
First in freedom, first in wheat;
And her future years will meet
Ripened hopes and richer stanzas.

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July 3, 1997 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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