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On the left and right hand side of the road,
Marching corn.
I saw it knee-high weeks ago—now it is head-high.
Tassels of red silk creep at the ends of the ears.

I am the prairie, mother of men, waiting.

They are mine, the threshing crews eating beefsteak, the farm-boys driving steers to the railroad cattle pens.

They are mine, the crowds of people at a Fourth-of-July basket picnic, listening to a lawyer read the Declaration of Independence, watching the pin-wheels and Roman candles at night, the young men and women, two by two, hunting the by-paths and kissing bridges.

They are mine, the horses looking over a fence in the frost of late October, saying good-morning to the horses hauling wagons of rutabaga to market.

They are mine, the old zigzag rail fences, the new barb W11e.

The cornhuskers wear leather on their hands.
There is no let-up to the wind. - -
Blue bandannas are knotted at the ruddy chins.

Fall-time and winter apples take on the smoulder of the five o'clock November sunset: falltime, leaves, bonfires, stubble—the old things go, and the earth is grizzled.

The land and the people hold memories, even among the ant-hills and the angleworms, among the toads and woodroaches, among grave-stone writings rubbed' out by the rain. They keep old things that never grow old.

The frost loosens corn husks. •
The sun, the rain, the wind,
loosen corn husks.
The men and women are helpers.
They are all cornhuskers together.
I see them late in the western evening
in a smoke-red dust.

• * * * * * * * *

The phantom of a yellow rooster flaunting a scarlet comb, on top of a dung-pile crying hallelujah to the streaks of daylight;

The phantom of an old hunting dog nosing in the underbrush for muskrats, barking at a coon in a treetop at midnight, chewing a bone, chasing his tail round a corncrib;

The phantom of an old workhorse taking the steel point of a plow across a forty-acre field in spring, hitched to a harrow in summer, hitched to a wagon among cornshocks in fall:

• These phantoms come into the talk and wonder of people on the front porch of a farm-house late summer nights.

“The shapes that are gone are here,” said an old man with a cob pipe in his teeth—one night in Kansas with a hot wind on the alfalfa.

Look at six eggs
In a mockingbird's nest.

Listen to six mockingbirds
Flinging follies of Oh-be-joyful
Over the marshes and uplands.

Look at songs
Hidden in eggs.

When the morning sun is on the trumpet-vine blossoms, sing at the kitchen pans: Shout All Over God's Heaven.

When the rain slants on the potato hills, and the sun plays a silver shaft on the last shower, sing to the bush at the backyard fence: Mighty Lak a Rose.

When the icy sleet pounds on the storm windows and the house lifts to a great breath, sing for the outside hills: The Ole Sheep Done Know the Road, the Young Lambs Must Find the Way.

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Spring slips back with a girl face, calling always: “Any new songs for me? Any new songs?”

O prairie girl, be lonely, singing, dreaming, waiting. Your lover comes, your child comes, the years creep with toes of April rain on new-turned sod.

O prairie girl, whoever leaves you only crimson poppies to talk with, whoever puts a good-by kiss on your lips and never comes back—

There is a song deep as the fall-time redhaws, long as the layer of black loam we go to, the shine of the morningstar over the corn belt, the wave line of dawn up a wheat valley.

O prairie mother, I am one of your boys.

I have loved the prairie as a man with a heart shot full of pain over love.

Here I know I will hanker after nothing so much as one more sunrise or a sky moon of fire doubled to a river moon of water.

I speak of new cities and new people. I tell you the past is a bucket of ashes. I tell you yesterday is a wind gone down, a sun dropped in the west. I tell you there is nothing in the world only an ocean of to-morrows, a sky of to-morrows.

I am a brother of the cornhuskers who say at sundown: To-morrow is a day. Carl Sandburg

Look you—the flesh, how it has fallen away,
And that dear beauty of my youth ! The lips
You loved to press—they are grown cold enough
With years; and this poor heart that beat so high—
God!—it is like a stone within my breast.
I will sit down where the old women sit
And pound the Awa with these withered hands.
I will chew beetle till my teeth are black—
That were like little pearls, you said—and spit
With them. My tongue shall be a wagging tongue
For old wives' tales, and I shall learn to laugh
At the low things they whisper, leering still
Half foolishly, scratching their shrivelled thighs,
And trying to recall passion that's dead—
Oh, many a weary day.

So our lives run
When that first stroke is spent that drove the barque
Against an ebbing tide. We drift, we fade
Like Kepi blossoms drooping in the sun,
That the night knew for fragrance.

Robert Paine Scripts,

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