Poetry of Kansas

Machine Poetry.

I sit me down to make a batch of rhymes;
   I've nothing in particular to say;
'Tis just to turn a crank and count the times__
   Such poetry is ground out every day.
The papers teem with it, why shouldn't I
   Help swell this tone that current poets sing?
'Tis neither soft and sweet, nor grand and high,
   And has no meaning__just an empty ring.
I fill my hoppers with the lightest trash,
   Not throwing in one grain of thought or passion,__
No bright idea, lest its sudden flash
   Should startle__for ideas are out of fashion.
I talk of love, of course, but in such style
   That anyone can see there's nothing in it;
I turn off love-sick stanzas while I smile,
   And wonder if some fool will think I mean it.
I screech, high-keyed, in wild and mournful tones,
   A wail for some one false or long departed:
I rake the past, and over dead, dry bones
   Utter a dirge that sounds quite broken-hearted.
Meanwhile, but few are ever taken in
   By all this stuff: most people know too well
The spurious tricks of rhyme, its crying sin;
   Its make-believe, its hollow, sounding shell.
I tell my "poet's lie" without offense,
   For tis a sort of sickly-solemn joke
That none believes in who has common sense;
   It takes so little fire to make a smoke.
Long-suffering public, take my grist of chaff__
   At your own price__we surely shall not quarrel.
It will not make you weep or laugh;
   But then, you know, 'twill help fill up the "barrel."

__Ellen P. Allerton.

Walls of Corn and Other Poems
Ellen P. Allerton
(Hiawatha, KS: Harrington Printing Company. 1894)
Pages 199-200

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November 1, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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