LYNN NELSON produced this selection.

The Kansas Poems of John Greenleaf Whittier


WE cross the prairie as of old
    The pilgrims crossed the sea,
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 blessing 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 our 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 prairie as of old
    Our fathers sailed the sea,
And make the West, as they the East,
    The homestead of the free!


BEAR him, comrades, to his grave;
    Never over one more brave
Shall the prairie grasses weep,
    In the ages yet to come,
When the millions in our room,
    What we sow in tears, shall reap.

Bear him up the icy hill,
    With the Kansas, frozen still
As his noble heart, below,
    And the land he came to till
With a freeman's thews and will,
    And his poor hut roofed with snow!

One more look of that dead face,
    Of his murder's ghastly trace!
One more kiss, O widowed one!
    Lay your left hands on his brow,
Lift you right hands up and vow
    That his work shall yet be done.

Patience, friends! The eye of God
    Every path by Murder trod
Watches, lidless, day and night;
    And the dead man in his shroud,
And his widow weeping loud,
    And our hearts, are in his sight.

Every deadly threat that swells
    With the roar of gambling hells,
Every brutal jest and jeer,
    Every wicked thought and plan
Of the cruel heart of man,
    Though but whispered, He can hear!

We in suffering, they in crime,
    Wait the just award of time,
Wait the vengeance that is due;
    Not in vain a heart shall break,
Not a tear for Freedom's sake
    Fall unheeded: God is true.

While the flag with stars bedecked
    Threatens where it should protect,
And the Law shakes hands with Crime,
    What is left us but to wait,
Match our patience to our fate,
    And abide the better time?

Patience, friends! The human heart
    Everywhere shall take our part,
Everywhere for us shall pray;
    On our side are nature's laws,
And God's life is in the cause
    That we suffer for to-day.

Well to suffer is divine;
    Pass the watchword down the line,
Pass the countersign: "ENDURE."
    Not to him who rashly dares,
But to him who nobly bears,
    Is the victor's garland sure.

Frozen earth to frozen breast,
    Lay our slain one down to rest;
Lay him down in hope and faith,
    And above the broken sod,
Once again, to Freedom's God,
    Pledge ourselves for life or death,

That the State whose walls we lay,
    In our blood and tears, to-day,
Shall be free from bonds of shame,
    And our goodly land untrod
By the feet of Slavery, shod
    With cursing as with flame!

Plant the Buckeye on his grave,
    For the hunter of the slave
In its shadow cannot rest;
    And let martyr mound and tree
Be our pledge and guaranty
    Of the freedom of the West!


A BLUSH as of roses
    Where rose never grew!
Great drops on the bunch-grass,
    But not of the dew!
A taint in the sweet air
    For wild bees to shun!
A stain that shall never
    Bleach out in the sun!

Back, steed of the prairies!
    Sweet song-bird, fly back!
Wheel hither, bald vulture!
    Gray wolf, call thy pack!
The foul human vultures
    Have feasted and fled;
The wolves of the Border
    Have crept from the dead.

From the hearths of their cabins,
    The fields of their corn,
Unwarned and unweaponed,
    The victims were torn,
The whirlwind of murder
    Swooped up and swept on
To the low, reedy fen-lands,
    The Marsh of the Swan.

With a vain plea for mercy
    No stout knee was crooked;
In the mouths of the rifles
    Right manly they looked.
How paled the May sunshine,
    O Marais du Cygne!
On death for the strong life,
    On red grass for green!

In the homes of their rearing,
    Yet warm with their lives,
Ye wait the dead only,
    Poor children and wives!
Put out the red forge-fire,
    The smith shall not come;
Unyoke the brown oxen,
    The ploughman lies dumb'.

Wind slow from the Swan's Marsh,
    O dreary death-train,
With pressed lips as bloodless
    As lips of the slain!
Kiss down the young eyelids,
    Smooth down the gray hairs;
Let tears quench the curses
    That burn through your prayers.

Strong men of the prairies,
    Mourn hitter and wild!
Wail, desolate woman!
    Weep, fatherless child!
But the grain of God springs up
    From ashes beneath,
And the crown of his harvest
    Is life out of death.

Not in vain on the dial
    The shade moves along,
To point the great contrasts
    Of right and of wrong:
Free homes and free altars,
    Free prairie and flood, -
The reeds of the Swan's Marsh,
    Whose bloom is of blood!

On the lintels of Kansas
    That blood shall not dry
Henceforth the Bad Angel
    Shall harmless go by;
Henceforth to the sunset,
    Unchecked on her way,
Shall Liberty follow
    The march of the day.


JOHN BROWN OF OSSAWATOMIE spake on his dying day:
"I will not have to shrive my soul a priest in Slavery's pay.
But let some poor slave-mother whom I have striven to free,
With her children, from the gallows-stair put up a prayer for me!"

John Brown of Ossawatomie, they led him out to die;
And lo! a poor slave-mother with her little child pressed nigh.
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender, and the old harsh face grew mild,
As he stooped between the jeering ranks and kissed the negro's child!

The shadows of his stormy life that moment fell apart;
And they who blamed the bloody hand forgave the loving heart.
That kiss from all its guilty means redeemed the good intent,
And round the grisly fighter's hair the martyr's aureole bent!

Perish with him the folly that seeks through evil good!
Long live the generous purpose unstained with human blood!
Not the raid of midnight terror, but the thought which underlies;
Not the borderer's pride of daring, but the Christian's sacrifice.

Nevermore may yon Blue Ridges the Northern rifle hear,
Nor see the light of blazing homes flash on the negro's spear.
But let the free-winged angel Truth their guarded passes scale,
To teach that right is more than might, and justice more than mail!

So vainly shall Virginia set her battle in array;
In vain her trampling squadrons knead the winter snow with clay.
She may strike the pouncing eagle, but she dares not harm the dove;
And every gate she bars to Hate shall open wide to Love!

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