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Prairie Poems

    Prairie Nature Poems

  1. To make a prairie

    by Emily Dickinson

    To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—
    One clover, and a bee,
    And revery.
    The revery alone will do
    If bees are few.

  2. A Prairie Song

    by Anonymous

    Oh, music springs under the galloping hoofs,
    Out on the plains;
    Where mile after mile drops behind with a smile,
    And to-morrow seems always to tempt and beguile,—
    Out on the plains.

    Oh, where are the traces of yesterday's ride?
    There to the north;
    Where alfalfa and sage sigh themselves into sleep,
    Where the buttes loom up suddenly, startling and steep,—
    There to the north.

    Oh, rest not my pony, there's youth in my heart,
    Out on the plains;
    And the wind sings a wild song to rob me of care,
    And there's room here to live and to love and to dare,—
    Out on the plains.

  3. Prairie Waters by Night

    by Carl Sandburg.

    Chatter of birds two by two raises a night song joining a litany of running water—sheer waters showing the russet of old stones remembering many rains.

    And the long willows drowse on the shoulders of the running water, and sleep from much music; joined songs of day-end, feathery throats and stony waters, in a choir chanting new psalms.

    It is too much for the long willows when low laughter of a red moon comes down; and the willows drowse and sleep on the shoulders of the running water.

  4. The Planting of the Cottonwood Tree

    by Ed Blair

    The building of the cabin home,
    The planting of the trees,
    The breaking of the virgin soil—
    What tender memories!
    What stories, told of other days,
    Come drifting back to me,
    I think this one the best of all,
    The planting of this tree.

    A little sprout she carried there
    When first the home was bought,
    For mother said "a treeless home
    Was such a lonely spot."
    And by the door where summer's breeze
    Would tune its leaves to song
    She planted it and nourished till
    Its roots grew firm and strong.

    Dear cottonwood, so lovely then,
    How wide and tall it grew.
    What joy to those long absent when
    Its top first came to view!
    A sentinel it seemed to be
    That stood majestic there,
    And guarded those who dwelt within
    That dear old home so fair.

    'Twas mother's tree! And it has stood
    For thirty years or more,
    Where loving hands had planted it
    Beside that cottage door.
    The song-birds came and nested there,
    And 'neath its cooling shade,
    The boys and girls that blessed the home
    Their first playhouses made.

  5. The Tumbleweed

    by Hannah Rea Woodman

    Where do they come from,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Where do they go to,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Who knows whence is their life so free,
    Born on the prairies' shadowless sea?
    Who knows of the parents they boast,
    This tossing, fringed, homeless host?
    Who knows where they bury their dead
    When the winds', high requiem is said?—
    Vagrants alway,
    The Tumbleweed!

    Where do they come from,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Where do they go to,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Ask of the breezes that sigh and fall;
    Ask of the winds that shriek and call;
    Ask of the changing lights that pass
    Over the wheat, the corn, the grass;
    Ask of the rose-gray mists that creep
    Like mother-watch o'er the prairies' sleep,—
    Vagrants alway,
    The Tumbleweed!

    Where do they come from,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Where do they go to,
    The Tumbleweed?
    Suddenly at your feet they lie,
    Laughing, tumbling, go rolling by;
    Over the blue-bound prairies leap,
    No faith, no love, no tryst they keep;
    Free and wild is the will they boast,
    This tossing, fringed, homeless host,—
    Vagrants alway,
    The Tumbleweed!

  6. Night in the West

    by Grace C. Howes

    There is something uplifting, inspiring,
    In the plains of the beautiful West,
    When calmly the day is expiring
    And all Nature is going to rest.

    The sun sets in glorious splendor,
    Then a hush settles over the world,
    The voices of Day sink to silence
    As the mantle of Night is unfurled.

    Gently the shadows grow darker.
    The light slowly fades from the West.
    The countryfolk cease all their labors
    And partake of the sleep of the blest.

    The moon, in her majesty, rises,
    The delicate queen of the night,
    And as she mounts higher and higher
    She floods all the world with her light.

    From afar, through the silence, there comes
    The wild coyote's quavering howl,
    Then, as mystery and silence resume
    I hear the sad hoot of the owl.

    Each creature of Nature rejoices
    In the wonderful night, Heaven-born,
    Sweetly they sleep through the silence
    To wake at the coming of morn.

    Then give me the beautiful prairie,
    With its miles of undented sod,
    It breathes of the peace of the angels,
    And the goodness and mercy of God.

  7. On the Prairie

    by Herbert Bates

    Bare, low, tawny hills
    With bluer heights beyond,
    And the air is sweet with spring,
    But when will the earth respond?

    Prairie that Tolls for leagues,
    Dusky and golden-pale,
    Like a stirless sea of waves,
    Unbroken by ship or sail.

    The hollows are dark with brush,
    And black with the wash of showers,
    And ragged with bleaching wreck
    Of the ranks of the tall sunflowers.

    No cloud in the blue, no stir
    Save the shrill of the wind in the grass,
    And the meadow-lark's note, and the call
    Of the wind-borne crows that pass.

    Bare, low, tawny hills,
    With bluer heights beyond,
    And the air is sweet with spring,
    But when will the earth respond?

  8. On the Prairie

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Out on the prairie—a shrieking storm!
    How the pitiless cold, driven from homes and firesides warm,
    In its terrible hold,
    Here grapples and grips with strength untold!

    Miles and miles, and nothing in sight,
    Only sweeps of snow—
    That under the dust of the gathering night,
    Now dimmer grow—breasting the winds that fiercely blow.

    Not a friendly light, not a sheltering tree,
    On the prairie's breast.
    And my failing feet shrink under me!
    I am heavy—oppressed
    With a drowsy weight; I must stop and rest.

    No, I can not go on! Here I lay me down,
    While the storm sweeps by;
    Press on, if you can, to the sheltering town;
    In peace let me lie.
    I am not cold . . . only sleepy . . . good-by.

  9. My Prairies

    by Hamlin Garland

    I love my prairies, they are mine
    From zenith to horizon line,
    Clipping a world of sky and sod
    Like the bended arm and wrist of God.

    I love their grasses. The skies
    Are larger, and my restless eyes
    Fasten on more of earth and air
    Than seashore furnishes anywhere.

    I love the hazel thickets; and the breeze,
    The never resting prairie winds. The trees
    That stand like spear points high
    Against the dark blue sky

    Are wonderful to me. I love the gold
    Of newly shaven stubble, rolled
    A royal carpet toward the sun, fit to be
    The pathway of a deity.

    I love the life of pasture lands; the songs of birds
    Are not more thrilling to me than the herd's
    Mad bellowing or the shadow stride
    Of mounted herdsmen at my side.

    I love my prairies, they are mine
    From high sun to horizon line.
    The mountains and the cold gray sea
    Are not for me, are not for me.

  10. Prairie Sunflower Poems

  11. The Soul of the Sunflower

    by Sara Jewett

    The warm sun kissed the earth
    To consecrate thy birth,
    And from his close embrace
    Thy radiant face
    Sprang into sight,
    A blossoming delight.

    Through the long summer days
    Thy lover's burning rays
    Shone hot upon thy heart.
    Thy life was part
    Of his desire,
    Thou passion-flower of fire!

    And, turning toward his love,
    Lifting thy head above
    The earth that nurtured thee,
    Thy majesty
    And stately mien
    Proclaims thee sun-crowned queen.

    On earth, thy gorgeous bloom
    Bears record of thy tomb,
    And to transcendent light
    Thy soul takes flight
    Till thou art one,
    O sunflower, with the sun!

  12. Sun Flowers

    by Hilda Conkling

    Sun-flowers, stop growing!
    If you touch the sky where those clouds are passing
    Like tufts of dandelion gone to seed,
    The sky will put you out!
    You know it is blue like the sea . . .
    Maybe it is wet, too!
    Your gold faces will be gone forever
    If you brush against that blue
    Ever so softly!

  13. Sunflowers

    by Lottie Brown Allen

    Up from the wayside damp and cold
    Cut of the early Kansas mold
    Blossomed the sunflowers, green and gold,

    Eastward turning at dawn’s first light
    Hourly drinking the sunbeams bright
    Westward waving a fond goodnight.

    Kissed by the sunshine and the dew
    Under the Kansas skies of blue
    Like unto sunflowers, the children grew.

    Bright eyes greeting the sun’s first ray
    Small hands eager for work or play
    Young hearts singing the livelong day.

    Kansas sunflowers happy and free
    Men and women that grew to be
    Builders of Kansas destiny.

  14. Serenade of the Sunflowers

    by Harry Edward Mills

    We are the original settlers,
    And this is our commonwealth
    We ever shall claim
    Both the name
    And the fame
    Which the squatter has taken by stealth.

    We came with the elk and the cactus
    Not yet was the Indian here
    And still we remain
    Though the grain
    Of the plain
    Has banished the bison and deer.

    We never would yield to invasion,
    Though enemies thickened around.
    When corn, wheat and rye
    Raised their high
    Battle cry
    We laughed at their blusterous sound.

    We cheered when the plowman attacked us:
    His furrows we hailed with delight.
    Wherever he trod
    Every rod
    Of his sod
    We seized as a prize of the fight.

    The Sun is our gallant defender;
    We thrive in his furious glow
    Then withers the maize
    In the blaze
    Of his rays,
    But we only flourish and grow.

    They wanted a title for Kansas,
    A title resplendent and great
    A name
    That should shame
    Every claim
    To her fame
    So they called her the Sunflower State.

  15. An Ode to the Kansas Sunflower

    by Ed Blair

    Oh sunflower! The queen of all flowers,
    No other with you can compare,
    The roadside and fields are made golden
    Because of your bright presence there.
    Above all the weeds that surround you
    You raise to the sun your bright head,
    Embroidering beautiful landscapes
    Your absence would leave brown and dead.

    Oh queen of the September morning
    You watch for the first ray of sun,
    And salute the bright orb as it travels
    Till the bright day of autumn is done.
    Tho' sickles may slay in the pasture,
    And the plowman destroy in the field,
    Yet, still will the corners and by-ways
    The seed for the future years yield.

    Then, Sunflower, peep over the fences
    And cover the hillsides with gold,
    And out in the cornfields, if tempted,
    Again take thy claim as of old;
    Salute, too, and nod to the stranger,
    Who travels the dusty highway,
    He'll worship the sun crown you're wearing
    And love you for brightening his way.

    So, Sunflower, grow tall in the meadow
    And spread to the breezes your arms,
    No matter if some do molest you
    And try to destroy on the farms,
    Let thy stalk all the season still gather
    The sunbeams that come dancing by;
    And then in September unfold them
    To dazzle with splendor the eye.

  16. Ah! Sunflower!

    by William Blake

    Ah! Sunflower, weary of time,
    Who countest the steps of the sun,
    Seeking after that sweet golden clime
    Where the traveler's journey is done;
    Where the youth pined away with desire,
    And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
    Arise from their graves, and aspire
    Where my sunflower wishes to go!

  17. The Sunflower and the Pea

    by Arthur Sheldon Peacock

    Good Kansans all, of every sort,
    Come join with me in song;
    And if we find the meter short
    We cannot sing it long.

    We'll sing the praise of prairie plants
    That grow our fields among,
    And here relate the circumstance
    And burden of our song:

    Ould Ireland has her shamrock green
    And praties fine galore,
    Auld Scotia has her thistle keen
    Aboon the Solway shore;

    The Bay state has her brown-baked bean
    In Boston by the sea—
    But Kansas boasts her sunflower's sheen
    And eke the black-eyed pea.

    The sunflower grows so very tall
    And branches out so free;
    That where there's nothing else at all
    It seems quite like a tree.

    'Twas one of these Sir Francis climbed
    And filled his heart with pride,
    As peeping o'er Sierra's crest
    Pacific first descried.

    The sunflower's good as any wood
    That grows upon the plain;
    'Tis proof to drouth or winds of south,
    And seldom hurt by rain.

    The black-eyed pea is victual good,
    And here we all agree,
    The Kansan eats no other food—
    When nothing else has he.

    Then join with me the glad refrain
    And sing it full and free;
    Without her patron flower and grain
    What would this country be?

  18. Prairie Animals & Wildlife Poems

  19. Wild Horse of the Prairies

    by Isaac McLellan

    For other scenes their lights expand,
    Out in the savage western land,
    Where wildernesses lone and grand,
    Their awful glooms extend;
    Far where the Rocky Mounts upthrow
    Their pinnacles of rock and snow,
    White cones, whereon the sunset's glow,
    Its roseate hues doth blend.

    Around them, woods primeval press,
    Around them, pastures measureless,
    Waved by the idle wind's caress,
    Reach th' horizon's edge.
    In dark ravine and gulch the bear
    And tiger-cat have made their lair,
    The bison range the meadows there,
    To browse the bending sedge.
    O'er open plain, in leafy dell,
    In hollow vale, on upland swell,
    The wild steeds of the prairies dwell,
    Free as the mountain wind;
    No iron bit or curb have they,
    No galling spur, no trappings gay,
    No rider to control their way,
    Their untam'd limbs to bind.
    Free as the eagle cleaves through space,
    They curvet or they join in race,
    Fleeter than wild beasts of the chase,
    A vast unnumbered throng;
    They crop the dewy grass at will,
    In ice cold waters drink their fill,
    Scour the wild plain or sweep the hill,
    Unscarr'd by whip or thong.
    Yet comes at times a yelling crew,
    The savage with his wild halloo,
    The painted Blackfoot or Sioux,
    All greedy for the spoil;
    It were a thrilling sight to see
    Those lawless riders fierce and free,
    Each swinging with a madden'd glee,
    The lariat's twisting coil.
    On, on the frantic horsemen sweep,
    On, on the snorting wild steeds leap,
    Down flowery slope, o'er wooded steep,
    Pursuers and pursued;
    Then far th' unerring noose is thrown,
    The stately bay or lusty roan
    Fall captive, panting, with a groan,
    All vanquish'd and subdued.

  20. The Wolves

    by Elizabeth Madox Roberts

    When Grandmother Polly had married and gone,
    But before her father had given her Clem,
    Or Joe, or Sandy, or Evaline-
    Before he had given her any of them,

    She used to live in a far-away place,
    In a little cabin that was her home,
    And all around were bushes and trees,
    And the wolves could come.

    At night they ran down out of the rocks
    And bristled up their trembly fur.
    They came and howled by Polly's door
    And showed their little white teeth at her.

  21. The Rattlesnake

    by John Charles McNeill

    Coiled like a clod, his eyes the home of hate,
    Where rich the harvest bows, he lies in wait,
    Linking earth's death and music, mate with mate.

    Is 't lure, or warning? Those small bells may sing
    Like Ariel sirens, poised on viewless wing,
    To lead stark life where mailéd death is king;

    Else nature's voice, in that cold, earthy thrill,
    Bids good avoid the venomed fang of ill,
    And life and death fight equal in her will.

  22. Prairie Buffalo Poems

  23. Lines to a Buffalo

    by Mrs. L. C. Hopkins

    Far out upon the prairie,
    Today I idly roam;
    This erst was called the hunters' range,
    The noble bisons' home.

    Here proud of man, he grandly strode,
    A monarch in his might.
    Fearless he scanned his vast abode,
    With keen, far-reaching sight.

    Too soon, alas! the whistling ball
    Sped swift, upon its way.
    Brave to the death, I saw thee fall
    And marked thy closing day.

    Again thy trail I cross, Alas!
    'Twas here I saw thee die.
    And here beneath the tangled grass
    Thy bleaching bones, espy.

  24. The Buffalo Trail

    The Buffalo Trail
    When the Land Belonged to God
    by Charles Marion Russell
    by Charles Badger Clark

    Deeply the buffalo trod it
    Beating it barren as brass;
    Now the soft rain-fingers sod it,
    Green to the crest of the pass.
    Backward it slopes into history;
    Forward it lifts into mystery.
    Here is but wind in the grass.

    Backward the millions assemble,
    Bannered with dust overhead,
    Setting the prairie a-tremble
    Under the might of their tread.
    Forward the sky-line is glistening
    And to the reach of our listening
    Drifts not a sound from the dead.

    Quick, or the swift seasons fade it!
    Look on his works while they show.
    This is the bison. He made it.
    Thus say the old ones who know.
    This is the bison—a pondering
    Vague as the prairie wind wandering
    Over the green or the snow.

  25. Out of the Kansas Dust, excerpt

    by George T. and Charles L. Edson

    Out of the dust of Kansas,
    In old, primeval days;
    Out of the shroud of a drifting cloud
    Across its grassy ways
    Flaunting the flag of the prairie dust,
    The shaggy bisons graze,
    Over a landscape red with rust
    The herds emerge from the Kansas dust.

  26. Oklahoma,— A Sonnet

    by Freeman E. Miller

    Here, through the ages old, the desert slept
    In solitudes unbroken, save when passed
    The bison herds, and savage hunters swept
    In thund'ring chaos down the valleys vast;
    But, lo! Across the barren margins stepped
    Advancement with her legions, and one blast
    From her imperial trumpet filled the last
    Lone covert where affrighted wildness crept.

    Full armed, full armored, at her wondrous birth,
    Her shining temples wreathed with gorgeous dower.
    She sits among the empires of the earth;
    Her proud achievements o'er the nations tower,
    Won by her people with their royal worth,
    With lofty culture, wisdom, wealth and power.

  27. Fight of a Buffalo With Wolves

    by James McIntyre

    A buffalo, lord of the plain,
    With massive neck and mighty mane,
    While from his herd he slowly strays,
    He on green herbage calm doth graze,
    And when at last he lifts his eyes
    A savage wolf he soon espies,
    But scarcely deigns to turn his head
    For it inspires him with no dread,
    He knows the wolf is treacherous foe
    But feels he soon could lay him low,
    A moment more and there's a pair
    Whose savage eyes do on him glare,
    But with contempt them both he scorns
    Unworthy of his powerful horns:
    Their numbers soon do multiply
    But the whole pack he doth defy,
    He could bound quickly o'er the plain
    And his own herd could soon regain;
    His foes they now are full a score
    With lolling tongues pant for his gore,
    He hears their teeth all loudly gnash
    So eager his big bones to crash,
    On every side they him infest,
    The north, the south, the east, the west
    Fierce rage doth now gleam from his eye,
    Resolved to conquer or to die,
    Round him they yelp and howl and growl,
    He glares on them with angry scowl,
    They circle closer him around,
    He roars and springs with mighty bound,
    And of his powers gives ample proof,
    Felling them with horn and hoof,
    Though some lay dead upon the plain,
    Yet their attack was not in vain,
    For they have tasted of his blood,
    Resolved it soon shall pour a flood,
    He feels that they have torn his hide,
    And streams gush from each limb and side,
    He rushes on them in despair
    And tosses them full high in air,
    But others rush on him and pull
    Down to the earth that glorious bull;
    On the flesh of this noble beast
    Their bloody jaws they soon do feast,
    Full worthy of a better fate
    Far from his herd and his dear mate,
    Who now do look for him in vain
    His bones do whiten now the plain.

  28. The Last Buffalo

    by Isaac McLellan

    Last of his royal race!
    He wanders lonely, o'er the trackless waste,
    Pausing the rolling river's tide to taste,
    In the broad desert space.

    Gone is that multitude,
    That rang'd the grassy, limitless domain,
    Cropping the sumptuous herbage of the plain,
    Their sweet, luxuriant food.

    Great monarch of the field!
    His shaggy head moved grandly at the front,
    Triumphant ever in the battle's front,
    Scorning to fly or yield.

    By Alleghany's chain,
    Where the gray summits of the mountains pile,
    In the green vales 'neath rocky Mount's defile,
    The bisons rang'd each plain.

    Years since, long-vanish'd years,
    These giant herds swept o'er the pastures wide,
    By Mississippi's shore, Missouri's tide,
    Speeding their grand careers.

    What terrors they had known!
    When rag'd o'er prairies the consuming fire,
    When wood and plain, one vast funereal pyre,
    With grassy blaze were strown!

    Sw1ft the wild cattle fled,
    When flam'd afar red Con flagration's sword,
    Speeding to lakelet marge or river ford,
    In tumults dread.

    How frantic was their speed,
    When Indian tribesmen came with bloody hand,
    The Blackfoot warriors and the Sioux band,
    On galloping, desert steed!

    How frantic was the race,
    While pitiless the whistling arrows sped,
    The lassos thrown, the spears with carnage red,
    In fierce, relentless chase!

    How terrible their lot,
    When the train'd soldier from some frontier post
    With deadly rifle charg'd the flying host
    With sabre and with shot!

    Those great herds pass'd away!
    Like leaves autumnal scatter'd o'er the plains;
    Not a poor remnant of them here remains,
    In plain or forest-way.

    Crippled and daz'd, alone,
    Staggering and reeling, bleeding at each pore,
    Last of his race, a sovereign now no more,
    He gasps his dying moan!

  29. To a Buffalo Skull

    To a Buffalo Skull
    Memories (Detail)
    by Unknown
    by Charles Badger Clark

    On the sable wall your great skull gleams,
    A regal ornament;
    A relic of weathered bone and horn,
    Once lord of a continent.

    The war-lord, yea, of a countless host,
    But gone is your kingly sway;
    For never again will you head the herd
    In the spring when the young calves play.

    All bleached with the merciless sun and rain
    Of many and many a day,
    You're all that is left to tell the tale
    How the black lines passed this way.

  30. Buffalo Dusk

    by Carl Sandburg

    The buffaloes are gone.
    And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
    Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their
    hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a
    great pageant of dusk,
    Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
    And the buffaloes are gone.

  31. Prairie Meadowlark Poems

  32. The Meadow-Lark

    by Ira Billman

    A patch of sunrise streaked with mist,
    True child of morn;
    A sweet, spring day the meadow kissed,
    And thou wast born.

    A while we watch thy movement shy,
    Without a nest;
    Dost make the rafters of the sky
    By night thy rest?

    Did some one stumble in his lore
    Of dates unknown,
    That thou art here so long before
    The grass is grown?

    There is no insect on the wing,
    The ground is bare;
    Yet thou, methinks to hear thee sing,
    With queens dost fare.

    Not till the grass begins to wave
    Art thou thy best;
    When such thy sunny ways, I crave
    Thy yellow breast.

    Then with the dew upon thy throat,
    Thy notes impearled;
    Thou droppest them afar, afloat,
    Down on the world.

    A secret doth to thee belong,
    Canst make reply?
    Thy home is on the ground, and song
    Is in the sky.

    Thus to my earnest questioning,
    The meadow-lark
    This tonic note to me did fling.
    How like a spark!

    The high-winged spirits care-free are.
    Of lowly heart;
    Their every thought, thus fledged a star,
    A gem of art.

  33. The Meadow Lark

    by Paul Laurence Dunbar

    Though the winds be dank,
    And the sky be sober,
    And the grieving Day
    In a mantle gray
    Hath let her waiting maiden robe her, —
    All the fields along
    I can hear the song
    Of the meadow lark,
    As she flits and flutters,
    And laughs at the thunder when it mutters.
    O happy bird, of heart most gay
    To sing when skies are gray!

    When the clouds are full,
    And the tempest master
    Lets the loud winds sweep
    From his bosom deep
    Like heralds of some dire disaster,
    Then the heart alone
    To itself makes moan;
    And the songs come slow,
    While the tears fall fleeter,
    And silence than song by far seems sweeter.
    Oh, few are they along the way
    Who sing when skies are gray!

  34. Meadowlarks

    by Sara Teasdale

    In the silver light after a storm,
    Under dripping boughs of bright new green,
    I take the low path to hear the meadowlarks
    Alone and high-hearted as if I were a queen.

    What have I to fear in life or death
    Who have known three things: the kiss in the night,
    The white flying joy when a song is born,
    And meadowlarks whistling in silver light.

  35. To the Meadow-Lark

    by Lloyd Mifflin

    Minstrel of melody,
    How shall I chaunt of thee,
    Floating in meadows athrill with thy song?
    Fluting anear my feet,
    Plaintive, and wildly sweet, —
    O could thy spirit to mortal belong!
    Tell me thy secret art,
    How thou dost touch the heart,
    Hinting of happiness still unpossessed?
    Say, doth thy bosom burn
    Vainly, as mine, and yearn
    Sadly for something that leaves it unblessed?

    Doth not that tender tone,
    Over the clover blown,
    Flow from a sorrow — a longing in vain?
    Or is it joy intense,
    So like a pang, the sense
    Hears in thy sweetest song something of pain?
    Others may cleave the steeps,
    Soar, and in upper deeps
    Sing in the heaven's blue arches profound;
    But thou most lowly thing,
    Teach me to keep my wing
    Close to the breast of our Mother, the ground!

    Soon shall my fleeting lay
    Fade from the world away, —
    Thine, ever-during, shall thrill thro' the years;
    Love, who once gladdened me,
    Surely hath saddened thee, —
    Half of thy music is made of his tears.
    Long may I list thy note
    Soft thro' the summer float
    Far o'er the fields where the wild grasses wave;
    Then when my life is done,
    Oh, at the set of sun,
    Pour out thy spirit anear to my grave!

  36. Poems About the People of the Prairie

  37. Out Where the West Begins

    Arthur Chapman

    Out where the handclasp's a little stronger,
    Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
    That's where the West begins;
    Out where the sun is a little brighter,
    Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter,
    Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter,
    That's where the West begins.

    Out where the skies are a trifle bluer,
    Out where friendship's a little truer,
    That's where the West begins;
    Out where a fresher breeze is blowing,
    Where there's laughter in every streamlet flowing,
    Where there's more of reaping and less of sowing,
    That's where the West begins.

    Out where the world is in the making,
    Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
    That's where the West begins;
    Where there's more of singing and less of sighing,
    Where there's more of giving and less of buying,
    And a man makes friends without half trying—
    That's where the West begins.

  38. The Westerner

    Arthur Chapman

    I'll never go where hills can't smile
    Upon me, day and night,
    And guard me, many a weary mile,
    And aid me in life's fight.

    From those white peaks I'll not stray far,
    Where less bright is the day,
    Nor see, toward dimmer evening star,
    My camp-smoke curl its way.

    I never want to seek in vain
    That wondrous, high plateau—
    That sage-clad, rolling Western plain
    Where golden sunsets glow.

    I never want to turn unto
    Some rain-washed, foggy shore;
    Here in this vasty land, and new,
    Hunt me forevermore.

  39. The Westerner

    by Charles Badger Clark

    My fathers sleep on the sunrise plains,
    And each one sleeps alone.
    Their trails may dim to the grass and rains,
    For I choose to make my own.
    I lay proud claim to their blood and name,
    But I lean on no dead kin;
    My name is mine, for the praise or scorn,
    And the world began when I was born
    And the world is mine to win.

    They built high towns on their old log sills,
    Where the great, slow rivers gleamed,
    But with new, live rock from the savage hills
    I'll build as they only dreamed.
    The smoke scarce dies where the trail camp lies,
    Till the rails glint down the pass;
    The desert springs into fruit and wheat
    And I lay the stones of a solid street
    Over yesterday's untrod grass.

    I waste no thought on my neighbor's birth
    Or the way he makes his prayer.
    I grant him a white man's room on earth
    If his game is only square.
    While he plays it straight I'll call him mate;
    If he cheats I drop him flat.
    Old class and rank are a wornout lie,
    For all clean men are as good as I,
    And a king is only that.

    I dream no dreams of a nurse-maid state
    That will spoon me out my food.
    A stout heart sings in the fray with fate
    And the shock and sweat are good.
    From noon to noon all the earthly boon
    That I ask my God to spare
    Is a little daily bread in store,
    With the room to fight the strong for more,
    And the weak shall get their share.

    The sunrise plains are a tender haze
    And the sunset seas are gray,
    But I stand here, where the bright skies blaze
    Over me and the big today.
    What good to me is a vague "may be"
    Or a mournful "might have been,"
    For the sun wheels swift from morn to morn
    And the world began when I was born
    And the world is mine to win.

  40. Doin' Things In Kansas

    Kansas Farming
    Kansas Farming
    by Richard Haines
    by Ed Blair

    We're raisin' cane in Kansas,
    But not the Cain of old;
    We're raisin' corn in Kansas,
    That turns to yellow gold;
    We're raisin' wheat in Kansas,
    And we've a lot to spare
    (Two hundred by four hundred
    Will grow wheat anywhere.)

    We're raisin' hogs in Kansas,
    Yes, raisin' 'em on hay—
    Alfalfa in the meadows
    Has come with us to stay—
    And cattle browse the pastures
    Where the wild buffalo
    Were roamin' in the desert
    Not fifty years ago.

    We're pumpin' oil in Kansas,
    And sendin' it away;
    We're lightin' up the cities,
    With gas, as bright as day.
    And hens lay eggs and cackle
    (No better payin' crop),
    And separator butter
    Sells at the very top.

    A feller died in Kansas,
    And went to Heaven's door,
    And asked to gain admission,
    To stay forever more.
    "From Kansas?" said St. Peter,
    "Your brain sure has a crack,
    Y' better oil yer motor,
    Git in and hike right back."

  41. Kansas, The Prairie Queen

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    In the heart of the country we love so well,
    Two mighty oceans midway between,
    On grassy plain and on billowy swell,
    Sits in her beauty the Prairie Queen.

    She hears not the song of the solemn sea,
    Nor the roar of cataracts mountain-born:
    No lofty peaks, rock-ribbed has she,
    With white hoods piercing the clouds of morn.

    No white sails glide over lakes asleep;
    She boasts no placers of golden sands.
    Her ships are the "schooners" that westward creep,
    And her richest mines are her fertile lands.

    For aught she lacketh—this Prairie Queen—
    Aught of mountain, or lake or sea,—
    There are wide, wine plains and billows green—
    Room for uncounted hosts has she.

    Her soil is deep and her winds blow free;
    There are belts of timber and quiet creeks;
    And rivers at brow, at breast, and knee,
    Fed by the snows on western peaks.

    God made the land, and man makes the State.
    As the hand of the Maker has made her fair,
    So honest labor has made her great,
    And wrought the robes she was barn to wear.

    There was once a time—not so long ago—
    When all this land was a grassy sea,
    Shook by the tramp of the buffalo,
    Trod on by savages flerce and free.

    Another time. On the winds was born
    A cry for help—when the settlers stood
    Battling for freedom—when, rent and torn,
    She was christened with fire and biptized in blood.

    Flame, and rope, and bullet, and knife
    Did their work, while the world locked on;
    But the fair young State came out of the strife
    Famous, glorious—or Freedom won.

    There were heroes then; and we see to-day
    What a rich growth sprang where their blood was sown—
    Why slavery trembled—for these were they
    Who drove the wedge that toppled her throne.

    Dark days and stern! remembered still
    By pleasant fireside, by peaceful stream,
    As one remembers with shuddering thrill
    The horror and fright of some evil dream.

    With "Bleeding Kansas" how fares it now?
    Her cup of plenty, her smile serene,
    She sits at peace with untroubled brow.
    She is rich, she is great, she is crowned a Queen!

    Her prairies are decked with peaceful homes,
    Nestled, like dove-cotes, in clumps of green;
    Fair cities rise with their spires and domes,
    And reaches of railway streched between.

    The cattle by thousands that dot her plains,
    The stacks, like tents, on her bosom borne;
    The grain sacks, heaped on the loaded wains;
    Her stately forests of ripening corn;

    Her quarries, where palaces, towers and spires
    Wait but the hands and the skill to form;
    The masses of coal, which feed the fires
    That drives her engines and keeps her warm:—

    All these are wealth; yet a greater wealth
    She holds in her children—her boys and girls—
    Their faces bright with the tints of health,
    With their laughing eyes and their tossing curls.

    The country boy with the bare, brown feet,
    Tripping to school with his books and slate,
    May climb some day to the highest seat—
    In some great crisis may save the state.

    Little he thinks, at his books or play,
    While the warm blood mantles his "cheek of tan,"
    Of the work of the years that stretch away;
    Yet the careless boy is the coming man.

    And the little girl, with her dimples sweet,
    Her red lips fresh as the morning dew,
    Her silvery laugh, and her dancing feet,
    Is the coming woman, tender and true.

    The boy, the girl, in their childish grace
    Conning their school tasks, day by day—
    These are they who shall take our place,
    When we are at rest and laid away.

    We are proud of Kansas, the beautiful Queen,
    And proud are we of her fields of corn;
    But a nobler pride than these, I ween,
    Is our pride in her children, Kansas born!

  42. Poems About the Pioneers of the Prairies

  43. Maid of the West-Land

    by Robert J. C. Stead

    Heart that is free as the open air,
    Eyes like the beams of the morn that rise
    Over our prairies, bright and fair,
    Brow like the silver of sunset skies,
    Cheeks with a beauty that glorifies,
    Tresses of sunlight, through and through,
    Figure and form that we idolize,
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Hope that is broad as your face is rare,
    Yearning that unto the uttermost cries,
    Soul that itself is a breath of prayer,
    Heaven-sent spirit in womanly guise;
    Tender caresses that minimize
    The labors of life with their pain and rue,
    Loving affection that never dies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Courage that rises to do and dare,
    Spell that entangles the sage and wise
    From venturesome toe to your crown of hair
    Ravishing beauties that hypnotize;
    Many the man for your favor vies,
    Well may he plead for the favor, too;
    Twentieth Century's greatest prize—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

    Maid of the West, in your wistful eyes,
    Tenderly deep as the western blue,
    The glorious hope of our future lies—
    Maid of the West-land, here's to you!

  44. The Song of the Kansas Emigrant

    by John Greenleaf Whittier

    We cross the prairies as of old
    The Pilgrims crossed the sea,
    To make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free.

    The homestead of the free, my boys,
    The homestead of the free,
    To make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free.

    We go to rear a wall of men
    On Freedom's Southern line,
    And plant beside the cotton-tree
    The rugged Northern pine.

    We're flowing from our native hills,
    As our free rivers flow;
    The blessings of our mother-land
    Is on us as we go.

    We go to plant her common schools
    On distant prairie swells,
    And give the Sabbaths of the wild
    The music of her bells.

    Upbearing, like the ark of old,
    The Bible in her van,
    We go to test the truth of God
    Against the fraud of man.

    No pause, nor rest, save where the streams
    That feed the Kansas run,
    Save where our pilgrim gonfalon
    Shall flout the setting sun.

    We'll tread the prairies as of old
    Our fathers sailed the sea;
    And make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free.

  45. The Pioneers

    by Herbert Bates

    Pale in the east a filmy moon
    Creeps up the empty sky,
    And the pallid prairie rounds bleak below,
    And we wonder that we are here; and the thin winds sigh
    Through the broken stalks of the sunflowers that wait to die,
    And the sun is gone, and the darkness begins to grow,
    And out on the shadowy plains we hear the coyote's cry.

    Out of the dark of the prairie plains—
    What lurks in the darkened plains?
    It is there that the coyote howls,
    It is there that the Indian prowls,
    Sinewy-footed, alert,
    Watching to do us hurt;
    And the sombre buffalo
    Pace, ominous and slow,
    With their black beards trailing low
    Over the sifting snow.
    And we, we cower and shake,
    Lying all night awake,—
    We in our little sod-built hut in the heart of the plain.

    God guard us, and make vain
    The wiles of the Indian foe;
    God show us how to go,
    And lead us in again
    Out of the dread of the plain,
    Home to the mountains and hills that our childhood knew,
    Where over the sombre pine trees the sea shines blue.

  46. Crossing the Plains

    by Joaquin Miller

    What great yoked brutes with briskets low,
    With wrinkled necks like buffalo,
    With round, brown, liquid, pleading eyes,
    That turn'd so slow and sad to you,
    That shone like love's eyes soft with tears,
    That seem'd to plead, and make replies,
    The while they bow'd their necks and drew
    The creaking load; and look'd at you.
    Their sable briskets swept the ground,
    Their cloven feet kept solemn sound.

    Two sullen bullocks led the line,
    Their great eyes shining bright like wine;
    Two sullen captive kings were they,
    That had in time held herds at bay,
    And even now they crush'd the sod
    With stolid sense of majesty,
    And stately stepp'd and stately trod,
    As if 'twere something still to be
    Kings even in captivity.

  47. The Trail of '49

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    Across the prairie where I dwell,
    Stretches away, from swell to swell,
    A road that might a story tell.

    The track is wide and deeply cut
    By wheels of heavy wagons, but
    The rank grass grows in seam and rut.

    'Tis the old trail of "Forty-Nine;"—
    Thus history, in graven line,
    Has stamped this prairie home of mine.

    The years have passed with snow and rain,
    And mighty frosts upheaved—in vain—
    For still this track shows clear and plain.

    Tracing it where it winds away,
    There comes to me at twilight gray,
    A vision of another day.

    I see the covered wagons go,
    Across the prairie toiling slow,
    Through the dreary storm, through summer glow.

    I see them with their human freight—
    Hearts throbbing high with hope elate—
    Pass onward to a doubtful fate.

    Months pass: a weary, jaded train,
    Worn with fatigue, disease and pain,
    Creeps slowly o'er a desert plain.

    Above, a cloudless, burning sky;
    Below, naught greets the weary eye,
    Save wastes of sand and alkali.

    No rain descends, no water flows;
    No cool trees bsnd, no green thing grows;
    Yet still that sad train onward goes.

    Fatigue and thirst! No tongue can tell
    The victim's anguish, fierce and fell—
    His fondest dream a bubbling well.

    And some go mad and wildly rave;
    Some find what, at the last, they crave,
    The silence of a desert grave.

    The living speak in husky tones;
    The poor brutes drop with piteous moans;
    The track is paved with bleaching bones.

    Still onward—slower and more slow—
    Dogged nightly by a stealthy foe,
    Toward mountain passes chocked with snow.

    One sleeps, to dream of home and wife;
    He wakes, at call to midnight strife
    With tomahawk and scalping knife.


    Past perils, miseries untold,
    Past desert heat, past mountains cold,
    What waits them in the land of gold?

    Go, search a checkered history
    Of soon-got hoards, as soon to flee,
    Of princely wealth and poverty.

    Dark tales of crime, of murders fell,
    Of drunken brawl, of gambling hell—
    Good chroniclers have told them well.

    Go, search them all, through every line—
    Yet deign to read this tale of mine,
    Of the old trail of "Fortv-Nine."

  48. The Santa Fe Trail

    by Ed Blair. Written on the dedication of the marker on the Santa Fe Trail at Lone Elm, Johnson County, Kansas.

    Fifty years—'Twas a prairie then
    And the deer roamed wild and free;
    Fifty years—I see it again
    As it appeared to me.
    The old trail ran where the barn stands now,
    The trail was here long before the plow,
    And we drove ox teams with sometimes a cow,
    In the days that use to be.

    Fifty years—Yes I lived here then
    And a lively place 'twas too.
    Wagons for miles with their fearless men
    Coming and passing from view.
    On the wagon covers "Pike's Peak or bust!"
    Yes, the fever was high for the yellow dust
    Just a lot of grit and then their luck to trust,
    For those that won were few.

    Fifty years—'Twas a camping ground
    Where the trees now cast their shade,
    And the faithful oxen rambled around
    And rarely if ever strayed,
    And the camp fires burned each night of the year
    In the pastures there and the cornfields here,
    Yet I slept each night with never a fear,
    And many the friends I made.

    Yes, fifty years—What a striking change
    From the way we do things now,
    No less these farms from the boundless ran
    Or the way we sow and plow
    The sickle is gone and the binder's here,
    But the sickle still to my heart is dear,
    But I look in vain for the roving deer
    And the prairie chicken now.

    Fifty years—Ah, I love to know
    That the old trail shall remain,
    That the markers tell in the years to go
    Where the ox teams crossed the plain
    Of the men who travelled the toilsome way
    But few are left to tell it today,
    But their march was Progress on its way,
    And its glory ne'er shall wane.

  49. The Pony Express

    Arthur Chapman

    The eddies swirl in the treacherous ford,
    And the clouds gather dark ahead.
    And over the plain, where the sunlight poured,
    Scarce a gleam does the pale moon shed.

    The pony drinks, but with gasp and sob,
    And wan is the man at its side;
    The way has been long, past butte and knob,
    And still he must ride and ride.

    Now the cinch is drawn and the plunge is made,
    And the bank of the stream is gained;
    Eyes study the darkness, unafraid,
    And ne’er is the good horse reined.

    And the hoof-beats die on the prairie vast,
    To the lone wolf’s answering wail—
    Thus the ghost of the Pony Express goes past
    On the grass-grown Overland Trail.

  50. The School-Ma'am

    by Robert J. C. Stead

    No hope of worldly gain is hers,
    A yokel's wages for her hire,
    And every throb of self's desire
    Resigned to childish worshippers.

    A tiny school her citadel,
    A fenceless acre her domain,
    Her life a sacrifice; her gain
    The gain of those she serves so well.

    Though little more than child herself,
    A mother she to many sons;
    In every vein the child-love runs
    And fondly floods each little elf.

    Though hampered by the formal sense
    Of laws that check her usefulness
    And boards of rustic truthfulness
    And kindly-meant incompetence,

    She earns a price they cannot pay,
    Obeys a law they did not make,
    Enduring for their children's sake
    The arrogance of human clay.

    Oh, hide your littleness in shame Who think ye pay for all she gives;
    Within her sacred circle lives
    The light of an eternal flame,

    And growing down your country's page.
    The beauty of her sacrifice
    Shall glow again in other eyes,
    And multiply from age to age.

    The mothers of the race to be
    Shall live her tenderness anew,
    And her devotion shall imbue
    The sons who keep our country free.

    She gains no flagrant, pompous prize,
    But men who move the world's affairs
    Shall snatch a moment from their cares
    To think of her with moistened eyes.

    The conquerors of hostile lands,
    The hearts the nation's burdens bear,
    To-morrow's lords of earth and air,
    To-day are moulded in her hands.

    The lightest trifle from her lips
    May charge some soul with fertile seed
    That in the hour of direst need
    Shall save your nation from eclipse.

    The kings of action, speech, and brain,
    The men your sons shall mark and raise
    To shape the nation's destinies,
    Shall earn her salary again.

    I count the paltry dollars spent
    Pay richer dividends than gold
    When those who such position hold
    Exert it for earth's betterment.

  51. Prairie Schooner Poems

  52. The Prairie Schooner

    by Charles Moreau Harger

    Slow was the weary, toilsome way
    Where creaked the heavy wain,—
    Quaint follower of the speeding day
    Across the plain.

    White canvas covers, bulging, fair,
    Enclosed fond hearts athrob with joy;
    The builders of an empire there
    Found safe convoy.

    Along its course child-voices sweet
    Marked all the strangeness of each scene;
    While parents sought new homes to greet
    With vision keen.

    No luxury or ease was there
    To lap the traveler into rest,
    But staunch it bore the pioneer
    On toward the West.

    Deserted now, its ragged sails
    Are furled—the port has long been won.
    Sport of the boisterous, hurrying gales,
    Through cloud and sun.

    Unused, forlorn, and gray, it stands,
    A faded wreck cast far ashore,
    The Mayflower of the prairie lands,
    Its journey o'er.

  53. The "Prairie Schooner"

    by Evander A. Crewson

    Through our town one April afternoon,
    A "prairie schooner" wound its western way;
    The driver humming to himself a tune,
    The children playing on a pile of hay.

    The mother, "chillin'," in a blanket wrapped,
    Slowly fed as fuel, insidious disease;
    While the curtains cracked and napped
    In the cool south-western breeze.

    Behind, two yellow dogs, lank and lean,
    Dodged the urchins' sticks and stones;
    Or along some alley might be seen
    Hunting for stray crumbs and bones.

    The horses' looks, in silence plead for corn,
    But weary plod along with fading hope;
    Behind, a brindle cow with broken horn
    Slowly followed up a piece of rope.

    I watched them slowly wind the hill,
    And away as far as I could see;
    With no ambition, and scarce no will,
    I wondered what the end would be.

    That scene in my memory seemed to freeze.
    Though years have rolled by one by one,
    I see those curtains flapping in the breeze,
    Slowly wending towards the setting sun.

  54. The Prairie-Schooner

    Carl Holliday

    All day the creeping caravan
    Wound on its serpent-trailing way;
    A thousand miles of wind-swept tan,
    A thousand miles of cloudless gray.

    Beneath the quivering summer-heat
    The prairie-schooner creaked afar;
    Some day, some time, the trail would meet
    The Setting Sun, the Golden Bar.

    The course is done; the servant old
    Long stood in shivering rags, and gazed
    Upon the mansions built of gold;
    All wondering, by their splendor dazed.

    The course is done; yet on and on
    Beyond Time's wavering shadow-line
    The prairie-schooner long has gone,
    Forsaken, lost, with ne'er a shrine.

  55. Prairie Home Poems

  56. Prairie Born

    Arthur Chapman

    We have heard the night wind howling as we lay alone in bed;
    We have heard the grey goose honking as he journeyed overhead;
    We have smelt the smoke-wraith flying in the hot October wind,
    And have fought the fiery demon that came roaring down behind;
    We have seen the spent snow sifting through the key-hole of the door,
    And the frost-line crawling, crawling, like a snake, along the floor;
    We have felt the storm-fiend wrestle with the rafters in his might,
    And the baffled blizzard shrieking through the turmoil of the night.

    We have felt the April breezes warm along the plashy plains;
    We have mind-marked to the cadence of the falling April rains;
    We have heard the crash of water where the snowfed rivers run,
    Seen a thousand silver lakelets lying shining in the sun;
    We have known the resurrection of the springtime in the land,
    Heard the voice of Nature calling and the words of her command,
    Felt the thrill of spring-time twilight and the vague, unfashioned thought
    That the season's birthday musters from the hopes we had forgot.

    We have heard the cattle lowing in the silent summer nights;
    We have smelt the smudge-fire fragrance—we have seen the smudge-fire lights—
    We have heard the wild duck grumbling to his mate along the bank;
    Heard the thirsty horses snorting in the stream from which they drank;
    Heard the voice of Youth and Laughter in the long, slow-gloaming night;
    Seen the arched electric splendor of the Great North's livid light;
    Read the reason of existence—felt the touch that was divine—
    And in eyes that glowed responsive saw the End of God's design.

    We have smelt the curing wheat-fields and the scent of new-mown hay;
    We have heard the binders clatter through the dusty autumn day;
    We have seen the golden stubble gleaming through the misty rain;
    We have seen the plow-streaks widen as they turned it down again;
    We have heard the threshers humming in the cool September night;
    We have seen their dark procession by the strawpiles' eerie light;
    We have heard the freight-trains groaning, slipping, grinding, on the rail,
    And the idle trace-chains jingle as they jogged along the trail.

    We have felt the cold of winter—cursed by those who know it not—
    We have braved the blizzard's vengeance, dared its most deceptive plot;
    We have learned that hardy races grow from hardy circumstance,
    And we face a dozen dangers to attend a country dance;
    Though our means are nothing lavish, we have always time for play,
    And our social life commences at the closing of the day;
    We have time for thought and culture, time for friendliness and friend,
    And we catch a broader vision as our aspirations blend.

    We have hopes to others foreign, aims they cannot understand,
    We, the "heirs of all the ages," we, the first-fruits of the land;
    Though we think with fond affection of the shores our fathers knew,
    And we honor all our brothers—for a brother's heart is true—
    Though we stand with them for progress, peace, and unity, and power,
    Though we die with them, if need be, in our nation's darkest hour—
    Still the prairies call us, call us, when all other voices fail,
    And the call we knew in childhood is the call that must prevail.

  57. Our Prairie Homes

    by Charles J. Barber

    How happy they who do reside
    Along Missouri’s flowing tide;
    Or on the gently rolling plains,
    By winding streams and shady lanes;
    Who westward came from childhood homes—
    From old familiar spires and domes,
    From hill and dale and greenwood wild,
    Where oft they sported when a child;
    From every tie that’s to them dear—
    From every state both far and near—
    From every nation on the earth
    Where has been told Nebraska’s worth,
    They came and left their native land
    And gave to friends the parting hand;
    With white sails bending to the breeze
    They bravely crossed the stormy seas,
    And quickly o’er the iron rail,
    And farther still by Indian trail,
    Until they gained this fertile shore
    And viewed its rolling prairies o’er,
    And by its rivers, lakes and streams
    Have realized their early dreams;
    And now have happy homes and friends
    In towns and cities, dales and glens;
    And round the fireside’s cheerful blaze
    Their children frolic in their plays.

  58. My Old Prairie Home

    by Ed Blair

    Dear old home of my youth in the long, long ago,
    Where the sunshine each morn filled the air,
    Where the meadow lark rose from the tall prairie grass
    As it warbled its sweet carols there.
    Oh I think of that home dear old home far away
    That was then on the wild prairie wide,
    Where each night I was tucked in the old trundle bed
    On the floor by the old fireside.

    In my fancy I see once again the old home,
    Dear log house father built long ago,
    Its steep roof made of slabs and its chimney of stone,
    With my name roughly carved below.
    There it stood many years ere another was built
    On the prairie around anywhere,
    And its light was a guide to the traveler lone,
    And its doors ever welcomed him there.

    There at night music sweet from the old violin
    Floated out on the sweet, balmy air,
    While I drifted to sleep in the old trundle bed—
    Peaceful sleep without ever a care.
    Oh bring back again the old home of my youth
    Where the grass rolled like waves of the sea,
    Where the dear wild flowers bloomed, where the lark sang so sweet,
    Oh my old prairie home let me see!

    There the low muffled tone of the prairie hen's mate
    Floated in from the prairie around,
    And away in the distance the wild deer roamed free,
    Then unknown the fierce bay of the hound,
    And at noon dear Bob White from the hedge piped his strain,
    Coming night brought the dove's mournful lay,
    And the song of the cricket and Katy-did rang
    From the grass till the breaking of day.

  59. A Home out West

    by Ellen P. Allerton

    A "Prairie schooner," creeping slow,
    Away-worn, jaded household band,
    In eager voices speaking low—
    Thus enter we the "Promised land."
    Behind us now the river's tide,
    Rolls dark and murk, deep and wide.


    A warm May day; a sweet soft rain
    On a green prairie falling fast;
    A stopping of the creeping wane,
    And the glad cry, "we are home at last."
    After long weeks of travel sore,
    The goal is won; we ask no more.

    Home! With our roof the dripping sky,
    Our floor the rainsoaked prairie's breast!
    Through all the wastes that round us lie,
    In wild, luxuriant verdure dressed,
    No tree extends its friendly bough,
    We seek no track of spade or plow.


    A year has fled. What wondrous change
    Has passed this way? What sorcery,
    What silent magic, swift and strange,
    Has wrought such wonders? Come and see!
    Where are the green wastes, soaked with rain?
    You seek them? You shall seek in vain.

    Spring smiles again; the sunbeams play
    On gabled roof and crystal pane.
    Spring smiles again; and skies of May
    Bend o'er broad fields of waving grain.
    Here are young orchards; and the breeze
    Bends the lithe limbs of forest trees.

    The spring rains beat on snowy walls,
    Comely, though plain, snug built and strong;
    Through vine wreathed windows sunshine falls,
    With cheerful smile, the whole day long;
    And happy faces, fresh and bright,
    Are gathered around the lamps at night.

    Our prairie home is sweet and dear;
    The deep rich soil holds honest wealth,
    The airs we breathe are pure and clear;
    The free, strong winds waft life and health.
    Here dwells content from day to day;
    So—let the great world go its way

  60. The Sod House on the Claim

    by Susannah Williams

    Now come dear children and I'll tell
    About the mansion where we dwell;
    It is a sod house on the flat,
    And we are staying now in that.

    Now I will tell you how 'tis made,
    The sod is cut with plow and spade,
    Some two feet long and one foot wide.
    and then are laid down side by side.

    The next round now as up we go
    Is laid on crosswise in a row;
    (They lay the sod across that way
    So that it will be sure to stay.)

    When high enough the walls are done
    And they then roll a huge log on.
    The gable-ends they then fill out,
    And trim the structure round about.

    Our ridge-pole is a cottonwood log
    Some sixteen inches through,
    And on this pole the rafters lay
    With small brush next in view.

    Now on this brush they lay more sod
    To make it snug and firm.
    And then on that they throw more dirt
    To keep it dry and warm.

    It now appears so very nice,
    It keeps us snug and warm.
    It shelters us from wintry blasts
    And from the frozen storm.

    Now then inside they go to work.
    They cut and trim the wall.
    Then over that spread lime and sand
    So that the dirt won't fall.

    There's one thing more for you to know
    That I will try to tell.
    The windows are so very nice
    In this place where we dwell.

    Up from the floor they're three feet high
    (That is up to the sill)
    And then the wall is cut around
    The space the windows fill.

    Now then these windows are so nice
    (They look that way to me).
    And they afford abundant light
    For all within to see.

    Our floor it was but common earth,
    'Twas here before we came
    And on it then the grass did grow
    For us to walk upon.

    But we have got a pine floor now
    and doing very well.
    But how much longer we will stay
    I really cannot tell.

    There's one thing more I have to fear
    Snakes and lizards both are here.
    With other reptiles not a few
    That frequently appear in view.

    I've penned these verses now for you.
    Well knowing they are strictly true.
    And after you have read them through
    I hope you'll think that they will do.

  61. The Sod House on the Prairie

    The Homestead and Building of the Barbed Wire Fence
    The Homestead and Building of the Barbed Wire Fence
    by John Steuart Curry
    by Ellen P. Allerton

    A low sod house, a broad green prairie,
    And stately ranks of bannered corn;—
    'Twas there I took my dark-eyed Mary,
    And there our darling boy was born.

    The walls were low, the place was homely,
    But Mary sang from morn till night.
    The place beneath her touch grew comely;
    Her cheerful presence made it bright.

    Oh, life was sweet beyond all measure!
    No hour was dull, no day was long;
    Each task was easy, toil was pleasure,
    For love and hope were fresh and strong.

    How oft we sat at eve, foretelling
    The glories of that wide, new land!
    And gayly planned our future dwelling—
    For low sod house, a mansion grand.

    Alas! we little know how fleeting
    The joy that falls to human lot.
    While unseen hands were dirges beating,
    We smiled secure and heard them not.

    One day Death came and took my Mary;
    Another, and the baby died.
    And near the sod house on the prairie
    I laid my darlings, side by side.

    I could not stay. My heart was weary,
    And life a load too hard to bear.
    That low sod house was dreary, dreary,
    For love and hope lay buried there.

  62. Prairie Farm & Ranch Poems

  63. The Old Sheep Wagon

    Arthur Chapman

    I have heard men long for a palace, but I want no such abode,
    For wealth is a source of trouble, and a jeweled crown is a load;
    I'll take my home in the open, with a mixture of sun and rain—
    Just give me my old sheep wagon, on the boundless Wyoming plain.

    With the calling sheep around me, and my collie's head on my knees,
    I float my cigarette smoke on the sage-scented prairie breeze;
    And at night, when the band is bedded, I creep, like a tired child,
    To my tarp, in the friendly wagon, alone on the sheep range wild.

    Music and art I am missing?—but what great symphony
    Can equal the harps of nature that are twanged by the plains-wind free?
    And where is the master of color to match, though for years he tried,
    The purples that veil yon mesa, at the hour of eventide?

    I have had my fill of mankind, and my dog is my only friend,
    So I'm waiting, here in the sagebrush, for the judgment the Lord may send;
    They'll find me dead in my wagon, out here on the hilltops brown,
    But I reckon I'll die as easy as I would in a bed in town!

  64. The Old Windmill

    by Clarence Albert Murch

    Battered windmill, old and gray,
    Swinging there athwart the sky,
    Sport of every idle breeze
    That may chance to wander by.
    Blow they fair or blow they foul,
    Still you wag your dingy cowl
    Through the livelong night and day,
    Weather-beaten, old and gray.

    Is that endless monotone—
    Half a shriek and half a groan—
    That in dreary cadence drones
    From your old rheumatic bones,
    Echo of some sylvan tune,
    Or forgotten forest rune
    From the aisles of long ago,
    Calling, calling, soft and low
    Through the banished years that creep
    Back to some old forest dim,
    Where the woodland zephyrs sweep
    Dancing leaf and swaying limb?

    As the lazy breezes blow
    All your gaunt arms to and fro,
    Swinging ever round and round,
    To that weird, unearthly sound,
    Do you ever wish that some
    Wandering Don Quixote of wind
    With its stormy lance might come—
    End that weary, ceaseless grind?

    Life is like a windmill gray,
    Swinging ’twixt the earth and sky;
    Sport of every passing breeze
    That may chance to wander by.
    Still we grind with smile or scowl,
    Blow they fair or blow they foul;
    Sure that we shall be some day,
    Weather-beaten, old and gray.

  65. Wheat

    by Hamlin Garland

    The winds are tangled in the wheat.

    In many a yellow breezy mass,
    The rich wheat ripened far away.

    They drive home the cows from the pastures,
    Up through the long shady lane,
    Where the quail whistles loud in the wheat-fields
    That are yellow with ripening grain.

    Like liquid gold the wheat-field lies,
    A marvel of yellow and green,
    That ripples and runs, that floats and flies,
    With the subtle shadows, the change—the sheen
    That plays in the golden hair of a girl.

  66. Amid the Wheat

    by Clinton Scollard

    Amid the wheat, amid the wheat,
    At morn the sturdy gleaners greet
    What time the meadow-lark upsprings
    On buoyant wings, and soars and sings.
    The reapers whet their scythes in tune
    Till dies the sunlit afternoon,
    Then homeward thread the laneways through
    Where grasses gleam with shimmering dew,
    While birds their vesper songs repeat
    Amid the wheat, amid the wheat.

    Amid the wheat, amid the wheat,
    The poppies find a shy retreat;
    With every breeze that blows is blent
    Their aromatic, drowsy scent
    That wafts the weary soul away
    Across some wide aerial bay,
    Where shoreless realms of dreamland lie
    Beneath an iridescent sky:
    Such vistas ope to those who meet
    Amid the wheat, amid the wheat.

    Amid the wheat, amid the wheat,
    Who strays with frolic-loving feet?
    A little maid that comes to see
    Where dwells the braggart bumble-bee;
    A little maid of summers few,
    With laughing eyes of pansy hue,
    Whose heart is like a morn in May,
    Whose life an endless holiday:
    Ah, may it ever seem as sweet
    As now to her amid the wheat!

  67. The Fire-Flies in the Wheat

    by Harriet Prescott Spofford

    Ah, never of a summer night
    Will life again be half as sweet
    As in that country of delight
    Where straying, staying, with happy feet,
    We watched the fire-flies in the wheat.

    Full dark and deep the starless night,
    Still throbbing with the summer heat;
    There was no ray of any light,
    But dancing, glancing, far and fleet,
    Only the fire-flies in the wheat.

    In that great country of delight,
    Where youth and love the borders meet,
    We paused and lingered for the sight,
    While sparkling, darkling, flashed the sheet
    Of splendid fire-flies in the wheat.

    That night the earth seemed but a height
    Whereon to rest our happy feet,
    Watching one moment that wide flight
    Where lightening, brightening, mount and meet
    Those burning fire-flies in the wheat.

    What whispered words whose memory might
    Make an old heart with madness beat,
    Whose sense no music can recite,
    That chasing, racing, rhythmic beat
    Sings out with fire-flies in the wheat.

    O never of such blest despite
    Dreamed I, whom fate was wont to cheat—
    And like a star your face, and white—
    While mingling, tingling, wild as sleet,
    Stormed all those fire-flies through the wheat.

    Though of that country of delight
    The farther bounds we shall not greet,
    Still, sweet of all, that summer night,
    That maddest, gladdest night most sweet,
    Watching the fire-flies in the wheat!

  68. Threshing Time

    by C. L. Edson

    There's dew on the stubble and fog in the air,
    And a red eye peeps over the hill,
    And a white flag of steam, flaring up with a scream,
    Has awakened the dull, drowsing doves from their dream
    On the aged, gray granary sill.
    And through dew on the grasses and fog in the air,
    The throng of the threshers is gathering there.
    With toiling and tugging, and lifting and lugging,
    They belt the steam engine that's wheezing and chugging—
    And pitchforks are gleaming and laborers laugh,
    Preparing to hurry the wheat from the chaff.

    The smoke and the vapor float over the trees,
    And a stamping horse rattles a chain;
    And men with red handkerchiefs looped at their throats
    Are climbing the mountains of barley and oats,
    The beautiful Alps of the grain.
    The smoke and the vapor floats over the trees,
    And the sun now has routed the fog on the breeze,
    While creaking and turning and slapping and churning,
    The belted red thresher has lisped out its yearning—
    Has mumbled its hunger in mournfulest note,
    And the first sheaf is ground in its ravenous throat.

    "Look out, fellers. Let 'er go!
    Pitch them first few bundles slow.
    Hold on son, don't gash my hands
    When you're cuttin' off them bands.
    Wheat's a-spilling. Hey, you Jack!
    Run that cussed wagon back!
    Grab a wheel, Bill, help him there.
    We ain't got no wheat to spare.
    Wheat's too high now, I'll be bound,
    To thresh and throw it on the ground.
    Belts off now! And I just said
    You boys would get her over-fed.
    You mustn't try to rush her through;
    The straw's still tough and damp with dew.
    When the sun gets two hours high
    You will find it's plenty dry.
    All right, let 'er go again;
    Now we're threshin' out the grain.
    See how plump them berries is.
    That's the stuff that does the biz.
    That there wheat's from college seed
    Of selected Turkey breed;
    The land was fall plowed just as soon—
    All right, boy, she s blowed for noon.
    Ease her down and hold her steady,
    Women folks says grub is ready."

    Now the thirsty sun swings lower on his torrid path to earth,
    And the yellow straw is piling toward the sky.
    Say, a feller learns at threshin what a drink of water's worth,
    For it tastes as sweet as cider when you're dry.

    At last the sun is setting, just a crimson ball of fire,
    And a coolness all the atmosphere pervades;
    The stalwart feeder's dusty arms at last begin to tire,
    And the last sheaf passes downward through the blades.

    Now the whistle's long drawn wailing is a song of seraphim,
    And the stars light up in heaven's purple deep;
    And the smoking and the joking, how it rests the weary limb
    Ere bedtime ushers in the perfect sleep.

    The day is over,
    The world is fed.
    And the farmer sleeps
    On his feather bed.

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