Poetry of Kansas


I saw a field of sunflowers
        When all their bloom was shed,
A field of Kansas sunflowers
        All standing brown and dead,
They hovered there upon the hill;
And like a phantom crew,
The ghost of all the sunflowers,
        The prairies over grew
Came trooping toward me in a crowd
Each shining through a misty shroud
And flashed like fireflies thro' my brain
As once they lit the Kansas plain.
For I have known the sunflowers
        As well as mortals know;
They leaned to me, the sunflowers
        And whispered, long ago__
The things the sunflowers told me then,
Some day I'll tell the world again,
Some day when all their fairy band
Is banished out of Kansas land.
For they are of the sprite world,
        They are a fairy band,
They speak in mystic meanings
        We scarcely understand.
They sprang in shining lanes of gold
Across the prairies where of old
The "Forty-Niners'" creaking wains
Went rutting through the grassy plains
And so were born the sunflowers,
        The nymphs of earth and air;
They reached their arms imploring,
        They tossed their golden hair,
They were a fairy band that cried,
"The gold is here on every side,*'
And yet the argonauts went by
To vanish in the sunset sky.
My playmates were the sunflowers
        Besides the sod house door,
They spread a sweet enchantment
        That lured me evermore
Their army queen, with shields ablaze
Went marching down the summer ways__
Across the mystic prairie land
Where Youth and I walked hand in hand.
The land grew full of cornstalks
        That flapped against the sky,
The summer sun went running
        Across the wheat and rye,
And nestling in the sunflower's shade
The wild canary's nest was made;
And every dream within me born
Was of the sunflowers and the corn.
The sound of splashing raindrops,
        The whistle of the quail,
The roar of men and reapers,
        The night hawk in the vale;
The crooning of the cradle song,
Out in the west where I belong,
A day that nevermore may be.
Is what the sunflowers say to me.

__C. L. Edson.

Willard Wattles
(Lawrence: The World Company. 1914)
Pages 95-97

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September 23, 2002 / John & Susan Howell / Wichita, Kansas / howell@kotn.org

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