Poetry of Kansas

Temperance Poem.

Many promising boys with countenances fair,
With dark curls, or auburn, or fair, sunny hair__
Where a mother's fond hand has been tenderly laid,
While her heart for God's blessings has fervently prayed!
These have fallen; the blow hath a broken heart given
To loved ones, for drunkards may not enter heaven.
Let us gaze on the victims of this awful foe__
With our mind's eye behold them as onward they go.
See the drunkards, ecstatic with insane delight,
By the thousand who pass to the drunkard's lone night.
Their jubilant song mingles still with the scream
Of the many who wild with delirium dream.
Ah, the visions of horror that burst on their view,
Can the lost world be worse which they're journeying to?
Now moves a procession by, weary and slow,
In garments of night and with faces of woe;
Confused sounds float up from the twain on the air__
There are moans, there are groans intermingled with
The mute, crushing anguish that seeks no relief,
And the shrieking of those who have gone mad with
'Tis the widows and mothers they pass, and we turn
To a still greater throng and their story we learn:
They are children with pinched faces, hungry and cold,
And some o[ them have prematurely grown old.
See the pitiful creatures, as onward they go,
In unsightly rags! See their faces of woe!
Some carry rude crutches, and others a cane__
Do not ask them the cause, for they crimson with shame:
'Tis a secret how father came home mad from rum,
Mother could not protect and the bad deed was done.
Ah! This is the foe that would ruin our land__
Arise to oppose him in one mighty band!
Shall allegiance to party, whatever it be,
Bear for us a sad record in eternity,
When the trumpet shall sound and the universe shake,
When the fallen and lost ones in terror shall quake,
When the awful pit opens its horrible jaws,
To swallow the ones who have broken God's laws;
When the drunkards shall reel into billows of flames,
Shall our garments bear any part of their stain?
Crimson-dyed will our skirts with the blood of souls stay,
While temptation we place in a weak brother's way.
What we license, of course, we should bravely protect,
But let us be wise and survey the effect:
Low license, 'tis said, is a street-walker vile__
Bedraggled, repulsive and coarse in her style;
High license, a kept mistress, crafty for spoil,
Whose lips drop as honey, with mouth smooth as oil.
But she also lieth in wait for her prey,
And increaseth transgressions among men to-day.
'Tis a difference of price, please permit me to tell,
Both are harlots whose feet surely "lay hold on hell."

__Mrs. Ida R. Simkins.

Poets and Poetry of Kansas
Edited by Thomas W. Herringshaw
(Chicago: American Publishers' Association. 1894)
Page 269

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August 30, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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