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Title: Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty
Author: Lindsay, Nicholas Vachel
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty" ***


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            COPYRIGHT 1914 BY

           _Printed in America_

               DEDICATED TO


    CHAPTER                                                      PAGE

      I. I START ON MY WALK                                         9

     II. WALKING THROUGH MISSOURI                                  36

    III. WALKING INTO KANSAS                                       62

     IV. IN KANSAS: THE FIRST HARVEST                             101

      V. IN KANSAS: THE SECOND AND THIRD HARVEST                  127


Thanks are due the Crowell Publishing Company for permission to
reprint the proclamations from _Farm and Fireside_ with which the book

Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty


_I Start on My Walk_

As some of the readers of this account are aware, I took a walk last
summer from my home town, Springfield, Illinois, across Illinois,
Missouri, and Kansas, up and down Colorado and into New Mexico. One of
the most vivid little episodes of the trip, that came after two months
of walking, I would like to tell at this point. It was in southern
Colorado. It was early morning. Around the cliff, with a boom, a
rattle and a bang, appeared a gypsy wagon. On the front seat was a
Romany, himself dressed inconspicuously, but with his woman more
bedecked than Carmen. She wore the bangles and spangles of her Hindu
progenitors. The woman began to shout at me, I could not distinguish
just what. The two seemed to think this was the gayest morning the sun
ever shone upon. They came faster and faster, then, suddenly, at the
woman's suggestion, pulled up short. And she asked me with a
fraternal, confidential air, "What you sellin', what you sellin',

If we had met on the first of June, when I had just started, she would
have pretended to know all about me, she would have asked to tell my
fortune. On the first of June I wore about the same costume I wear on
the streets of Springfield. I was white as paper from two years of
writing poetry indoors. Now, on the first of August I was sunburned a
quarter of an inch deep. My costume, once so respectable, I had
gradually transformed till it looked like that of a show-man. I wore
very yellow corduroys, a fancy sombrero and an oriflamme tie. So Mrs.
Gypsy hailed me as a brother. She eyed my little worn-out oil-cloth
pack. It was a delightful professional mystery to her.

I handed up a sample of what it contained--my _Gospel of Beauty_ (a
little one-page formula for making America lovelier), and my little
booklet, _Rhymes to Be Traded for Bread_.

The impatient horses went charging on. In an instant came more noises.
Four more happy gypsy wagons passed. Each time the interview was
repeated in identical language, and with the same stage business. The
men were so silent and masterful-looking, the girls such brilliant,
inquisitive cats! I never before saw anything so like high-class comic
opera off the stage, and in fancy I still see it all:--those brown,
braceleted arms still waving, and those provocative siren
cries:--"What you sellin', boy? What you sellin'?"

I hope my Gospel did them good. Its essential principle is that one
should not be a gypsy forever. He should return home. Having
returned, he should plant the seeds of Art and of Beauty. He should
tend them till they grow. There is something essentially humorous
about a man walking rapidly away from his home town to tell all men
they should go back to their birthplaces. It is still more humorous
that, when I finally did return home, it was sooner than I intended,
all through a temporary loss of nerve. But once home I have taken my
own advice to heart. I have addressed four mothers' clubs, one
literary club, two missionary societies and one High School Debating
Society upon the Gospel of Beauty. And the end is not yet. No, not by
any means. As John Paul Jones once said, "I have not yet begun to

I had set certain rules of travel, evolved and proved practicable in
previous expeditions in the East and South. These rules had been
published in various periodicals before my start. The home town
newspapers, my puzzled but faithful friends in good times and in bad,
went the magazines one better and added a rule or so. To promote the
gala character of the occasion, a certain paper announced that I was
to walk in a Roman toga with bare feet encased in sandals. Another
added that I had travelled through most of the countries of Europe in
this manner. It made delightful reading. Scores of mere acquaintances
crossed the street to shake hands with me on the strength of it.

The actual rules were to have nothing to do with cities, railroads,
money, baggage or fellow tramps. I was to begin to ask for dinner
about a quarter of eleven and for supper, lodging and breakfast about
a quarter of five. I was to be neat, truthful, civil and on the
square. I was to preach the Gospel of Beauty. How did these rules work

The cities were easy to let alone. I passed quickly through Hannibal
and Jefferson City. Then, straight West, it was nothing but villages
and farms till the three main cities of Colorado. Then nothing but
desert to central New Mexico. I did not take the train till I reached
central New Mexico, nor did I write to Springfield for money till I
quit the whole game at that point.

Such wages as I made I sent home, starting out broke again, first
spending just enough for one day's recuperation out of each pile, and,
in the first case, rehabilitating my costume considerably. I always
walked penniless. My baggage was practically nil. It was mainly
printed matter, renewed by mail. Sometimes I carried reproductions of
drawings of mine, _The Village Improvement Parade_, a series of
picture-cartoons with many morals.

I pinned this on the farmers' walls, explaining the mottoes on the
banners, and exhorting them to study it at their leisure. My little
pack had a supply of the aforesaid _Rhymes to Be Traded for Bread_.
And it contained the following Gospel of Beauty:


     _Being the new "creed of a beggar" by that vain and foolish
     mendicant Nicholas Vachel Lindsay, printed for his personal
     friends in his home village--Springfield, Illinois. It is his
     intention to carry this gospel across the country beginning
     June, 1912, returning in due time._


     _I come to you penniless and afoot, to bring a message. I am
     starting a new religious idea. The idea does not say "no" to
     any creed that you have heard.... After this, let the
     denomination to which you now belong be called in your heart
     "the church of beauty" or "the church of the open sky." ...
     The church of beauty has two sides: the love of beauty and
     the love of God._



     _The things most worth while are one's own hearth and
     neighborhood. We should make our own home and neighborhood
     the most democratic, the most beautiful and the holiest in
     the world. The children now growing up should become devout
     gardeners or architects or park architects or teachers of
     dancing in the Greek spirit or musicians or novelists or
     poets or story-writers or craftsmen or wood-carvers or
     dramatists or actors or singers. They should find their
     talent and nurse it industriously. They should believe in
     every possible application to art-theory of the thoughts of
     the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln's Gettysburg
     Address. They should, if led by the spirit, wander over the
     whole nation in search of the secret of democratic beauty
     with their hearts at the same time filled to overflowing
     with the righteousness of God. Then they should come back to
     their own hearth and neighborhood and gather a little circle
     of their own sort of workers about them and strive to make
     the neighborhood and home more beautiful and democratic and
     holy with their special art.... They should labor in their
     little circle expecting neither reward nor honors.... In
     their darkest hours they should be made strong by the vision
     of a completely beautiful neighborhood and the passion for a
     completely democratic art. Their reason for living should be
     that joy in beauty which no wounds can take away, and that
     joy in the love of God which no crucifixion can end._

The kindly reader at this point clutches his brow and asks, "But why
carry this paper around? Why, in Heaven's name, do it as a beggar? Why
do it at all?"

Let me make haste to say that there has been as yet no accredited,
accepted way for establishing Beauty in the heart of the average
American. _Until such a way has been determined upon by a competent
committee_, I must be pardoned for taking my own course and trying any
experiment I please.

But I hope to justify the space occupied by this narrative, not by the
essential seriousness of my intentions, nor the essential solemnity of
my motley cloak, nor by the final failure or success of the trip, but
by the things I unexpectedly ran into, as curious to me as to the
gentle and sheltered reader. Of all that I saw the State of Kansas
impressed me most, and the letters home I have chosen cover, for the
most part, adventures there.

Kansas, the Ideal American Community! Kansas, nearer than any other to
the kind of a land our fathers took for granted! Kansas, practically
free from cities and industrialism, the real last refuge of the
constitution, since it maintains the type of agricultural
civilization the constitution had in mind! Kansas, State of tremendous
crops and hardy, devout, natural men! Kansas of the historic Santa Fé
Trail and the classic village of Emporia and the immortal editor of
Emporia! Kansas, laid out in roads a mile apart, criss-crossing to
make a great checker-board, roads that go on and on past endless rich
farms and big farm-houses, though there is not a village or railroad
for miles! Kansas, the land of the real country gentlemen, Americans
who work the soil and own the soil they work; State where the shabby
tenant-dwelling scarce appears as yet! Kansas of the Chautauqua and
the college student and the devout school-teacher! The dry State, the
automobile State, the insurgent State! Kansas, that is ruled by the
cross-roads church, and the church type of civilization! The Newest
New England! State of more promise of permanent spiritual glory than
Massachusetts in her brilliant youth!

Travellers who go through in cars with roofs know little of this
State. Kansas is not Kansas till we march day after day, away from the
sunrise, under the blistering noon sky, on, on over a straight
west-going road toward the sunset. Then we begin to have our spirits
stirred by the sight of the tremendous clouds looming over the most
interminable plain that ever expanded and made glorious the heart of

I have walked in eastern Kansas where the hedged fields and the
orchards and gardens reminded one of the picturesque sections of
Indiana, of antique and settled Ohio. Later I have mounted a little
hill on what was otherwise a level and seemingly uninhabited universe,
and traced, away to the left, the creeping Arkansas, its course marked
by the cottonwoods, that became like tufts of grass on its far
borders. All the rest of the world was treeless and riverless, yet
green from the rain of yesterday, and patterned like a carpet with the
shadows of the clouds. I have walked on and on across this unbroken
prairie-sod where half-wild cattle grazed. Later I have marched
between alfalfa fields where hovered the lavender haze of the fragrant
blossom, and have heard the busy music of the gorging bumblebees.
Later I have marched for days and days with wheat waving round me,
yellow as the sun. Many's the night I have slept in the barn-lofts of
Kansas with the wide loft-door rolled open and the inconsequential
golden moon for my friend.

These selections from letters home tell how I came into Kansas and how
I adventured there. The letters were written avowedly as a sort of
diary of the trip, but their contents turned out to be something less
than that, something more than that, and something rather different.

THURSDAY, MAY 30, 1912. In the blue grass by the side of the road.
Somewhere west of Jacksonville, Illinois. Hot sun. Cool wind. Rabbits
in the distance. Bumblebees near.

At five last evening I sighted my lodging for the night. It was the
other side of a high worm fence. It was down in the hollow of a grove.
It was the box of an old box-car, brought there somehow, without its
wheels. It was far from a railroad. I said in my heart "Here is the
appointed shelter." I was not mistaken.

As was subsequently revealed, it belonged to the old gentleman I spied
through the window stemming gooseberries and singing: "John Brown's
body." He puts the car top on wagon wheels and hauls it from grove to
grove between Jacksonville and the east bank of the Mississippi. He
carries a saw mill equipment along. He is clearing this wood for the
owner, of all but its walnut trees. He lives in the box with his son
and two assistants. He is cook, washerwoman and saw-mill boss. His
wife died many years ago.

The old gentleman let me in with alacrity. He allowed me to stem
gooseberries while he made a great supper for the boys. They soon came
in. I was meanwhile assured that my name was going into the pot. My
host looked like his old general, McClellan. He was eloquent on the
sins of preachers, dry voters and pension reformers. He was full of
reminiscences of the string band at Sherman's headquarters, in which
he learned to perfect himself on his wonderful fiddle. He said, "I
can't play slow music. I've got to play dance tunes or die." He did
not die. His son took a banjo from an old trunk and the two of them
gave us every worth while tune on earth: _Money Musk_, _Hell's Broke
Loose in Georgia_, _The Year of Jubilee_, _Sailor's Hornpipe_, _Baby
on the Block_, _Lady on the Lake_, and _The Irish Washerwoman_, while
I stemmed gooseberries, which they protested I did not need to do.
Then I read my own unworthy verses to the romantic and violin-stirred
company. And there was room for all of us to sleep in that one
repentant and converted box-car.

FRIDAY, MAY 31, 1912. Half an hour after a dinner of crackers, cheese
and raisins, provided at my solicitation by the grocer in the general
store and post-office, Valley City, Illinois.

I have thought of a new way of stating my economic position. I belong
to one of the leisure classes, that of the rhymers. In order to belong
to any leisure class, one must be a thief or a beggar. On the whole I
prefer to be a beggar, and, before each meal, receive from toiling man
new permission to extend my holiday. The great business of that world
that looms above the workshop and the furrow is to take things from
people by some sort of taxation or tariff or special privilege. But I
want to exercise my covetousness only in a retail way, open and above
board, and when I take bread from a man's table I want to ask him for
that particular piece of bread, as politely as I can.

But this does not absolutely fit my life. For yesterday I ate several
things without permission, for instance, in mid-morning I devoured all
the cherries a man can hold. They were hanging from heavy, breaking
branches that came way over the stone wall into the road.

Another adventure. Early in the afternoon I found a brick farm-house.
It had a noble porch. There were marks of old-fashioned distinction in
the trimmed hedges and flower-beds, and in the summer-houses. The
side-yard and barn-lot were the cluckingest, buzzingest kind of
places. There was not a human being in sight. I knocked and knocked on
the doors. I wandered through all the sheds. I could look in through
the unlocked screens and see every sign of present occupation. If I
had chosen to enter I could have stolen the wash bowl or the
baby-buggy or the baby's doll. The creamery was more tempting, with
milk and butter and eggs, and freshly pulled taffy cut in squares. I
took a little taffy. That is all I took, though the chickens were very
social and I could have eloped with several of them. The roses and
peonies and geraniums were entrancing, and there was not a watch dog
anywhere. Everything seemed to say "_Enter in and possess_!"

I saw inside the last door where I knocked a crisp, sweet, simple
dress on a chair. Ah, a sleeping beauty somewhere about!

I went away from that place.

SUNDAY, JUNE 1, 1912. By the side of the road, somewhere in Illinois.

Last night I was dead tired. I hailed a man by the shed of a
stationary engine. I asked him if I could sleep in the engine-shed all
night, beginning right now. He said "Yes." But from five to six, he
put me out of doors, on a pile of gunny sacks on the grass. There I
slept while the ducks quacked in my ears, and the autos whizzed over
the bridge three feet away. My host was a one-legged man. In about an
hour he came poking me with that crutch and that peg of his. He said
"Come, and let me tell your fortune! I have been studying your
physiognifry while you were asleep!" So we sat on a log by the edge of
the pond. He said: "I am the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son. They call
me the duck-pond diviner. I forecast the weather for these parts.
Every Sunday I have my corner for the week's weather in the paper
here." Then he indulged in a good deal of the kind of talk one finds
in the front of the almanac.

He was a little round man with a pair of round, dull eyes, and a dull,
round face, with a two weeks' beard upon it. He squinted up his eyes
now. He was deliberate. Switch engines were going by. He paused to
hail the engineers. Here is a part of what he finally said: "You are a
Child of Destiny." He hesitated, for he wanted to be sure of the next
point. "You were born in the month of S-e-p-t-e-m-b-e-r. Your
preference is for a business like clerking in a store. You are of a
slow, _pigmatic_ temperament, but I can see you are fastidious about
your eating. You do not use tobacco. You are fond of sweets. You have
been married twice. Your first wife died, and your second was
divorced. You look like you would make a good spiritualist medium. If
you don't let any black cats cross your track you will have good luck
for the next three years."

He hit it right twice. I _am_ a Child of Destiny and I _am_ fond of
sweets. When a prophet hits it right on essentials like that, who
would be critical?

An old woman with a pipe in her mouth came down the railroad
embankment looking for greens. He bawled at her "Git out of that." But
on she came. When she was closer he said: "Them weeds is full of
poison oak." She grunted, and kept working her way toward us, and
with a belligerent swagger marched past us on into the engine-room,
carrying a great mess of greens in her muddy hands.

There was scarcely space in that little shed for the engine, and it
was sticking out in several places. Yet it dawned on me that this was
the wife of my host, that they kept house with that engine for the
principal article of furniture. Without a word of introduction or
explanation she stood behind me and mumbled, "You need your supper,
son. Come in."

There was actually a side-room in that little box, a side room with a
cot and a cupboard as well. On the floor was what was once a rug. But
it had had a long kitchen history. She dipped a little unwashed bowl
into a larger unwashed bowl, with an unwashed thumb doing its whole
duty. She handed me a fuzzy, unwashed spoon and said with a note of
real kindness, "Eat your supper, young man." She patted me on the
shoulder with a sticky hand. Then she stood, looking at me fixedly.
The woman had only half her wits.

I suppose they kept that stew till it was used up, and then made
another. I was a Child of Destiny, all right, and Destiny decreed I
should eat. I sat there trying to think of things to say to make
agreeable conversation, and postpone the inevitable. Finally I told
her I wanted to be a little boy once more, and take my bowl and eat on
the log by the pond in the presence of Nature.

She maintained that genial silence which indicates a motherly
sympathy. I left her smoking and smiling there. And like a little
child that knows not the folly of waste, I slyly fed my supper to the

At bedtime the old gentleman slept in his clothes on the cot in the
kitchenette. He had the dog for a foot-warmer. There was a jar of
yeast under the table. Every so often the old gentleman would call for
the old lady to come and drive the ducks out, or they would get the
board off the jar. Ever and anon the ducks had a taste before the
avenger arrived.

On one side of the engine the old lady had piled gunny-sacks for my
bed. That softened the cement-floor foundation. Then she insisted on
adding that elegant rug from the kitchen, to protect me from the fuzz
on the sacks. She herself slept on a pile of excelsior with a bit of
canvas atop. She kept a cat just by her cheek to keep her warm, and I
have no doubt the pretty brute whispered things in her ear. Tabby was
the one aristocratic, magical touch:--one of these golden coon-cats.

The old lady's bed was on the floor, just around the corner from me,
on the other side of the engine. That engine stretched its vast bulk
between us. It was as the sword between the duke and the queen in the
fairy story. But every so often, in response to the old gentleman's
alarm, the queen would come climbing over my feet in order to get to
the kitchen and drive out the ducks. From where I lay I could see
through two doors to the night outside. I could watch the stealthy
approach of the white and waddling marauders. Do not tell me a duck
has no sense of humor. It was a great game of tag to them. It occurred
as regularly as the half hours were reached. I could time the whole
process by the ticking in my soul, while presumably asleep. And while
waiting for them to come up I could see the pond and a star reflected
in the pond, the star of my Destiny, no doubt. At last it began to
rain. Despite considerations of fresh air, the door was shut, and soon
everybody was asleep.

The bed was not verminiferous. I dislike all jokes on such a theme,
but in this case the issue must be met. It is the one thing the tramp
wants to know about his bunk. That peril avoided, there is nothing to
quarrel about. Despite all the grotesquerie of that night, I am
grateful for a roof, and two gentle friends.

Poor things! Just like all the citizens of the twentieth century,
petting and grooming machinery three times as smart as they are
themselves. Such people should have engines to take care of them,
instead of taking care of engines. There stood the sleek brute in its
stall, absorbing all, giving nothing, pumping supplies only for its
own caste;--water to be fed to other engines.

But seldom are keepers of engine-stables as unfortunate as these. The
best they can get from the world is cruel laughter. Yet this woman,
crippled in brain, her soul only half alive, this dull man, crippled
in body, had God's gift of the liberal heart. If they are supremely
absurd, so are all of us. We must include ourselves in the farce.
These two, tottering through the dimness and vexation of our queer
world, were willing the stranger should lean upon them. I say they had
the good gift of the liberal heart. One thing was theirs to divide.
That was a roof. They gave me my third and they helped me to hide from
the rain. In the name of St. Francis I laid me down. May that saint of
all saints be with them, and with all the gentle and innocent and
weary and broken!


    _Even the shrewd and bitter,
    Gnarled by the old world's greed,
    Cherished the stranger softly
    Seeing his utter need.
    Shelter and patient hearing,
    These were their gifts to him,
    To the minstrel chanting, begging,
    As the sunset-fire grew dim.
    The rich said "You are welcome."_

    _Yea, even the rich were good.
    How strange that in their feasting
    His songs were understood!
    The doors of the poor were open,
    The poor who had wandered too,
    Who had slept with ne'er a roof-tree
    Under the wind and dew.
    The minds of the poor were open,
    There dark mistrust was dead.
    They loved his wizard stories,
    They bought his rhymes with bread._

    _Those were his days of glory,
    Of faith in his fellow-men.
    Therefore, to-day the singer
    Turns beggar once again._


_Walking Through Missouri_

TUESDAY MORNING, JUNE 4, 1912. In a hotel bedroom in Laddonia,
Missouri. I occupy this room without charge.

Through the mercy of the gateman I crossed the Hannibal toll-bridge
without paying fare, and the more enjoyed the pearly Mississippi in
the evening twilight. Walking south of Hannibal next morning, Sunday,
I was irresistibly reminded of Kentucky. It was the first real "pike"
of my journey,--solid gravel, and everyone was exercising his racing
pony in his racing cart, and giving me a ride down lovely avenues of
trees. Here, as in dozens of other interesting "lifts" in Illinois, I
had the driver's complete attention, recited _The Gospel of Beauty_
through a series of my more didactic rhymes till I was tired, and
presented the _Village Improvement Parade_ and the _Rhymes to Be
Traded for Bread_ and exhorted the comradely driver to forget me
never. One colored horseman hitched forward on the plank of his
breaking-cart and gave me his seat. Then came quite a ride into New
London. He asked, "So you goin' to walk west to the mountains and all
around?" "Yes, if this colt don't break my neck, or I don't lose my
nerve or get bitten by a dog or anything." "Will you walk back?"
"Maybe so, maybe not." He pondered a while, then said, with the Bert
Williams manner, "_You'll ride back. Mark my words, you'll ride

He asked a little later, "Goin' to harves' in Kansas?" I assured him I
was not going to harvest in Kansas. He rolled his big white eyes at
me: "What in the name of Uncle Hillbilly _air_ you up to then?"

In this case I could not present my tracts, for I was holding on to
him for dear life. Just then he turned off my road. Getting out of the
cart I nearly hung myself; and the colt was away again before I could
say "Thank you."

Yesterday I passed through what was mostly a flat prairie country,
abounding in the Missouri mule. I met one man on horseback driving
before him an enormous specimen tied head to head with a
draught-horse. The mule was continually dragging his good-natured
comrade into the ditch and being jerked out again. The mule is a
perpetual inquisitor and experimenter. He followed me along the fence
with the alertest curiosity, when he was inside the field, yet meeting
me in the road, he often showed deadly terror. If he was a mule colt,
following his mare mamma along the pike, I had to stand in the side
lane or hide behind a tree till he went by, or else he would turn and
run as if the very devil were after him. Then the farmer on the mare
would have to pursue him a considerable distance, and drive him back
with cuss words. 'Tis sweet to stir up so much emotion, even in the
breast of an animal.

What do you suppose happened in New London? I approached what I
thought a tiny Baptist chapel of whitewashed stone. Noting it was
about sermon-time, and feeling like repenting, I walked in. Behold,
the most harmoniously-colored Catholic shrine in the world! The sermon
was being preached by the most gorgeously robed priest one could well
conceive. The father went on to show how a vision of the Christ-child
had appeared on the altar of a lax congregation in Spain. From that
time those people, stricken with reverence and godly fear, put that
church into repair, and the community became a true servant of the
Lord. Infidels were converted, heretics were confounded.

After the sermon came the climax of the mass, and from the choir loft
above my head came the most passionate religious singing I ever heard
in my life. The excellence of the whole worship, even to the preaching
of visions, was a beautiful surprise.

People do not open their eyes enough, neither their spiritual nor
their physical eyes. They are not sensitive enough to loveliness
either visible or by the pathway of visions. I wish every church in
the world could see the Christ-child on the altar, every Methodist and
Baptist as well as every Catholic congregation.

With these thoughts I sat and listened while that woman soloist sang
not only through the Mass, but the Benediction of the Blessed
Sacrament as well. The whole surprise stands out like a blazing star
in my memory.

I say we do not see enough visions. I wish that, going out of the
church door at noon, every worshipper in America could spiritually
discern the Good St. Francis come down to our earth and singing of
the Sun. I wish that saint would return. I wish he would preach
voluntary poverty to all the middle-class and wealthy folk of this
land, with the power that once shook Europe.

FRIDAY, JUNE 7, 1912. In the mid-afternoon in the woods, many miles
west of Jefferson City. I am sitting by a wild rose bush. I am looking
down a long sunlit vista of trees.

Wednesday evening, three miles from Fulton, Missouri, I encountered a
terrific storm. I tried one farm-house just before the rain came down,
but they would not let me in, not even into the barn. They said it was
"not convenient." They said there was another place a little piece
ahead, anyway. Pretty soon I was considerably rained upon. But the
"other place" did not appear. Later the thunder and lightning were
frightful. It seemed to me everything was being struck all around me:
because of the sheer downpour it became pitch dark. It seemed as
though the very weight of the rain would beat me into the ground. Yet
I felt that I needed the washing. The night before I enjoyed the kind
of hospitality that makes one yearn for a bath.

At last I saw a light ahead. I walked through more cataracts and
reached it. Then I knocked at the door. I entered what revealed itself
to be a negro cabin. Mine host was Uncle Remus himself, only a person
of more delicacy and dignity. He appeared to be well preserved, though
he was eighteen years old when the war broke out. He owns forty acres
and more than one mule. His house was sweet and clean, all metal
surfaces polished, all wood-work scrubbed white, all linen fresh
laundered. He urged me to dry at his oven. It was a long process,
taking much fuel. He allowed me to eat supper and breakfast with him
and his family, which honor I scarcely deserved. The old man said
grace standing up. Then we sat down and he said another. The first
was just family prayers. The second was thanksgiving for the meal. The
table was so richly and delicately provided that within my heart I
paraphrased the twenty-third Psalm, though I did not quote it out
aloud: "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine
enemies"--(namely, the thunder and lightning, and the inhospitable
white man!).

I hope to be rained on again if it brings me communion bread like that
I ate with my black host. The conversation was about many things, but
began religiously; how "_Ol' Master in the sky gave us everything here
to take keer of, and said we mussent waste any of it_." The wife was a
mixture of charming diffidence and eagerness in offering her opinion
on these points of political economy and theology.

After supper the old gentleman told me a sweet-singing field-bird I
described was called the "Rachel-Jane." He had five children grown
and away from home and one sleek first voter still under his roof. The
old gentleman asked the inevitable question: "Goin' west harvestin'?"

I said "No" again. Then I spread out and explained _The Village
Improvement Parade_. This did not interest the family much, but they
would never have done with asking me questions about Lincoln. And the
fact that I came from Lincoln's home town was plainly my chief
distinction in their eyes. The best bed was provided for me, and warm
water in which to bathe, and I slept the sleep of the clean and
regenerated in snowy linen. Next morning the sun shone, and I walked
the muddy roads as cheerfully as though they were the paths of Heaven.

SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE 9, 1912. I am writing in the railroad station at
Tipton, Missouri.

A little while back a few people began to ask me to work for my
meals. I believe this is because the "genteel" appearance with which I
started has become something else. My derby hat has been used for so
many things,--to keep off a Noah's flood of rain, to catch cherries
in, to fight bumblebees, to cover my face while asleep, and keep away
the vague terrors of the night,--that it is still a hat, but not quite
in the mode. My face is baked by the sun and my hands are fried and
stewed. My trousers are creased not in one place, but all over. These
things made me look more like a person who, in the words of the
conventional world, "_ought to work_."

Having been requested to work once or twice, I immediately made it my
custom to offer labor-power as a preliminary to the meal. I generally
ask about five people before I find the one who happens to be in a
meal-giving mood. This kindly person, about two-thirds of the time,
refuses to let me work. I insist and insist, but he says, "Aw, come
in and eat anyway." The man who accepts my offer of work may let me
cut weeds, or hoe corn or potatoes, but he generally shows me the
woodpile and the axe. Even then every thud of that inevitably dull
instrument seems to go through him. After five minutes he thinks I
have worked an hour, and he comes to the porch and shouts: "Come in
and get your dinner."

Assuming a meal is worth thirty-five cents, I have never yet worked
out the worth of one, at day-laborer's wages. Very often I am called
into the house three times before I come. Whether I work or not, the
meals are big and good. Perhaps there is a little closer attention to
_The Gospel of Beauty_, after three unheeded calls to dinner.

After the kindling is split and the meal eaten and they lean back in
their chairs, a-weary of their mirth, by one means or another I show
them how I am knocking at the door of the world with a dream in my

Because of the multitudes of tramps pouring west on the freight
trains,--tramps I never see because I let freight cars alone,--night
accommodations are not so easy to get as they were in my other walks
in Pennsylvania and Georgia. I have not yet been forced to sleep under
the stars, but each evening has been a scramble. There must be some
better solution to this problem of a sleeping-place.

The country hotel, if there is one around, is sometimes willing to
take in the man who flatly says he is broke. For instance, the
inn-keeper's wife at Clarksburg was tenderly pitiful, yea, she was
kind to me after the fashion of the holiest of the angels. There was a
protracted meeting going on in the town. That was, perhaps, the reason
for her exalted heart. But, whatever the reason, in this one case I
was welcomed with such kindness and awe that I dared not lift up my
haughty head or distribute my poems, or give tongue to my views, or
let her suspect for a moment I was a special IDEA on legs. It was much
lovelier to have her think I was utterly forlorn.

This morning when I said good-bye I fumbled my hat, mumbled my words
and shuffled my feet, and may the Good St. Francis reward her.

When I asked the way to Tipton the farmer wanted me to walk the
railroad. People cannot see "why the Sam Hill" anyone wants to walk
the highway when the rails make a bee-line for the destination. This
fellow was so anxious for the preservation of my feet he insisted it
looked like rain. I finally agreed that, for the sake of avoiding a
wetting, I had best hurry to Tipton by the ties. The six miles of
railroad between Clarksburg and Tipton should be visited by every
botanist in the United States. Skip the rest of this letter unless you
are interested in a catalogue of flowers.

First comes the reed with the deep blue blossoms at the top that has
bloomed by my path all the way from Springfield, Illinois. Then come
enormous wild roses, showing every hue that friend of man ever
displayed. Behold an army of white poppies join our march, then
healthy legions of waving mustard. Our next recruits are tiny
golden-hearted ragged kinsmen of the sunflower. No comrades depart
from this triumphal march to Tipton. Once having joined us, they
continue in our company. The mass of color grows deeper and more
subtle each moment. Behold, regiments of pale lavender larkspur. 'Tis
an excellent garden, the finer that it needs no tending. Though the
rain has failed to come, I begin to be glad I am hobbling along over
the vexatious ties. I forget my resolve to run for President.

Once I determined to be a candidate. I knew I would get the tramp-vote
and the actor-vote. My platform was to be that railroad ties should
be just close enough for men to walk on them in natural steps, neither
mincing the stride nor widely stretching the legs.

Not yet have we reached Tipton. Behold a white flower, worthy of a
better name, that the farmers call "sheep's tea." Behold purple
larkspur joining the lavender larkspur. Behold that disreputable
camp-follower the button-weed, wearing its shabby finery. Now a red
delicate grass joins in, and a big purple and pink sort of an aster.
Behold a pink and white sheep's tea. And look, there is a dwarf
morning glory, the sweetest in the world. Here is a group of
black-eyed Susans, marching like suffragettes to get the vote at
Tipton. Here is a war-dance of Indian Paint. And here are bluebells.

"Goin' west harvestin'?"

"I have harvested already, ten thousand flowers an hour."

JUNE 10, 1912. 3 P.M. Three miles west of Sedalia, Missouri. In the
woods. Near the automobile road to Kansas City.

Now that I have passed Sedalia I am pretty well on toward the Kansas
line. Only three more days' journey, and then I shall be in Kansas,
State of Romance, State of Expectation. Goodness knows Missouri has
plenty of incident, plenty of merit. But it is a cross between
Illinois and northern Kentucky, and to beg here is like begging in my
own back-yard.

But the heart of Kansas is the heart of the West.... Inclosed find a
feather from the wing of a young chicken-hawk. He happened across the
road day before yesterday. The farmer stopped the team and killed him
with his pitchfork. That farmer seemed to think he had done the Lord a
service in ridding the world of a parasite. Yet I had a certain
fellow-feeling for the hawk, as I have for anybody who likes chicken.

This walk is full of suggestions for poems. Sometimes, in a
confidential moment, I tell my hosts I am going to write a chronicle
of the whole trip in verse. But I cannot write it now. The traveller
at my stage is in a kind of farm-hand condition of mind and blood. He
feels himself so much a part of the soil and the sun and the ploughed
acres, he eats so hard and sleeps so hard, he has little more patience
in trying to write than the husbandman himself.

If that poem is ever written I shall say,--to my fellow-citizens of
Springfield, for instance:--"I have gone as your delegate to greet the
fields, to claim them for you against a better day. I lay hold on
these furrows on behalf of all those cooped up in cities."

I feel that in a certain mystical sense I have made myself part of the
hundreds and hundreds of farms that lie between me and machine-made
America. I have scarcely seen anything but crops since I left home.
The whole human race is grubbing in the soil, and the soil is
responding with tremendous vigor. By walking I get as tired as any and
imagine I work too. Sometimes the glory goes. Then I feel my own
idleness above all other facts on earth. I want to get to work
immediately. But I suppose I am a minstrel or nothing. (There goes a
squirrel through the treetops.)

Every time I say "No" to the question "Goin' west harvestin'?" I am a
little less brisk about reciting that triad of poems that I find is
the best brief exposition of my gospel: (1) _The Proud Farmer_, (2)
_The Illinois Village_ and (3) _The Building of Springfield_.

If I do harvest it is likely to be just as it was at the Springfield
water-works a year ago, when I broke my back in a week trying to wheel

JUNE 12, 1912. On the banks of a stream west of the town of
Warrensburg, Missouri.

Perhaps the problem of a night's lodging has been solved. I seem to
have found a substitute for the spare bedrooms and white sheets of
Georgia and Pennsylvania. It appears that no livery stable will refuse
a man a place to sleep. What happened at Otterville and Warrensburg I
can make happen from here on, or so I am assured by a farm-hand. He
told me that every tiniest village from here to western Kansas has at
least two livery stables and there a man may sleep for the asking. He
should try to get permission to mount to the hay-mow, for, unless the
cot in the office is a mere stretch of canvas, it is likely to be
(excuse me) verminiferous. The stable man asks if the mendicant has
matches or tobacco. If he has he must give them up. Also he is told
not to poke his head far out of the loft window, for, if the insurance
man caught him, it would be all up with the insurance. These
preliminaries quickly settled, the transient requests a buggy-robe to
sleep in, lest he be overwhelmed with the loan of a horse-blanket.
The objection to a horse-blanket is that it is a horse-blanket.

And so, if I am to believe my friend with the red neck, my good times
at Warrensburg and Otterville are likely to continue.

Strange as it may seem, sleeping in a hayloft is Romance itself. The
alfalfa is soft and fragrant and clean, the wind blows through the big
loft door, the stars shine through the cottonwoods. If I wake in the
night I hear the stable-boys bringing in the teams of men who have
driven a long way and back again to get something;--to get drunk, or
steal the kisses of somebody's wife or put over a political deal or
get a chance to preach a sermon;--and I get scraps of detail from the
stable-boys after the main actors of the drama have gone. It sounds as
though all the remarks were being made in the loft instead of on the
ground floor. The horses stamp and stamp and the grinding sound of
their teeth is so close to me I cannot believe at first that the
mangers and feed-boxes are way down below.

It is morning before I know it and the gorged birds are singing
"shivaree, shivaree, Rachel Jane, Rachel Jane" in the mulberry trees,
just outside the loft window. After a short walk I negotiate for
breakfast, then walk on through Paradise and at the proper time
negotiate for dinner, walk on through Paradise again and at six
negotiate for the paradisical haymow, without looking for supper, and
again more sleepy than hungry. The difference between this system and
the old one is that about half past four I used to begin to worry
about supper and night accommodations, and generally worried till
seven. Now life is one long sweet stroll, and I watch the sunset from
my bed in the alfalfa with the delights of the whole day renewed in my

Passing through the village of Sedalia I inquired the way out of town
to the main road west. My informant was a man named McSweeny, drunk
enough to be awfully friendly. He asked all sorts of questions. He
induced me to step two blocks out of my main course down a side-street
to his "Restaurant." He said he was not going to let me leave town
without a square meal. It was a strange eating-place, full of
ditch-diggers, teamsters, red-necked politicians and slender
intellectual politicians. In the background was a scattering of the
furtive daughters of pleasure, some white, some black. The whole
institution was but an annex to the bar-room in front. Mr. McSweeny
looked over my book while I ate. After the meal he gathered a group of
the politicians and commanded me to recite. I gave them my rhyme in
memory of Altgeld and my rhyme in denunciation of Lorimer, and my
rhyme denouncing all who coöperated in the white slave trade,
including sellers of drink. Mr. McSweeny said I was the goods, and
offered to pass the hat, but I would not permit. A handsome black
jezebel sat as near us as she dared and listened quite seriously. I
am sure she would have put something in that hat if it had gone round.

"I suppose," said Mr. McSweeny, as he stood at his door to bow adieu,
"you will harvest when you get a little further west?"

That afternoon I walked miles and miles through rough country, and put
up with a friendly farmer named John Humphrey. He had children like
little golden doves, and a most hard-working wife. The man had
harvested and travelled eight years in the west before he had settled
down. He told me all about it. Until late that night he told me
endless fascinating stories upon the theme of that free man's land
ahead of me. If he had not had those rosy babies to anchor him, he
would have picked up and gone along, and argued down my rule to travel

Because he had been a man of the road there was a peculiar feeling of
understanding in the air. They were people of much natural
refinement. I was the more grateful for their bread when I considered
that when I came upon them at sunset they were working together in the
field. There was not a hand to help. How could they be so happy and
seem so blest? Their day was nearer sixteen than eight hours long. I
felt deathly ashamed to eat their bread. I told them so, with
emphasis. But the mother said, "We always takes in them that asks, and
nobody never done us no harm yet."

That night was a turning point with me. In reply to a certain question
I said: "_Yes. I am going west harvesting._"

I asked the veteran traveller to tell me the best place to harvest. He
was sitting on the floor pulling the children's toes, and having a
grand time. He drew himself up into a sort of oracular knot, with his
chin on his knees, and gesticulated with his pipe.

"Go straight west," he said, "to Great Bend, Barton County, Kansas,
the banner wheat county of the United States. Arrive about July
fifth. Walk to the public square. Walk two miles north. Look around.
You will see nothing but wheat fields, and farmers standing on the
edge of the road crying into big red handkerchiefs. Ask the first man
for work. He will stop crying and give it to you. Wages will be two
dollars and a half a day, and keep. You will have all you want to eat
and a clean blanket in the hay."

I have resolved to harvest at Great Bend.



    _O great Heart of God,
    Once vague and lost to me,
    Why do I throb with your throb to-night,
    In this land, Eternity?
    O little Heart of God,
    Sweet intruding stranger,
    You are laughing in my human breast,
    A Christ-child in a manger.
    Heart, dear Heart of God,
    Beside you now I kneel,
    Strong Heart of Faith. O Heart not mine,
    Where God has set His seal.
    Wild thundering Heart of God
    Out of my doubt I come,
    And my foolish feet with prophets' feet,
    March with the prophets' drum._


_Walking into Kansas_

It has been raining quite a little. The roads are so muddy I have to
walk the ties. Keeping company with the railroad is almost a habit.
While this shower passes I write in the station at Stillwell, Kansas.

JUNE 14, 1912. I have crossed the mystic border. I have left Earth. I
have entered Wonderland. Though I am still east of the geographical
centre of the United States, in every spiritual sense I am in the
West. This morning I passed the stone mile-post that marks the
beginning of Kansas.

I went over the border and encountered--what do you think? Wild
strawberries! Lo, where the farmer had cut the weeds between the road
and the fence, the gentle fruits revealed themselves, growing in the
shadow down between the still-standing weeds. They shine out in a red
line that stretches on and on, and a man has to resolve to stop eating
several times. Just as he thinks he has conquered desire the line gets
dazzlingly red again.

The berries grow at the end of a slender stalk, clustered six in a
bunch. One gathers them by the stems, in bouquets, as it were, and
eats off the fruit like taffy off a stick.

I was gathering buckets of cherries for a farmer's wife yesterday.
This morning after the strawberries had mitigated I encountered a bush
of raspberries, and then hedges on hedges of mulberries both white and
red. The white mulberries are the sweetest. If this is the wild West,
give me more. There are many varieties of trees, and they are thick as
in the East. The people seem to grow more cordial. I was eating
mulberries outside the yard of a villager. He asked me in where the
eating was better. And then he told me the town scandal, while I had
my dessert.

A day or so ago I hoed corn all morning for my dinner. This I did
cheerfully, considering I had been given a good breakfast at that farm
for nothing. I feel that two good meals are worth about a morning's
work anyway. And then I had company. The elderly owner of the place
hoed along with me. He saved the country, by preaching to me the old
fashioned high tariff gospel, and I saved it by preaching to him the
new fashioned Gospel of Beauty. Meanwhile the corn was hoed. Then we
went in and ate the grandest of dinners. That house was notable for
having on its walls really artistic pictures, not merely respectable
pictures, nor yet seed-catalogue advertisements.

That night, in passing through a village, I glimpsed a man washing his
dishes in the rear of a blacksmith shop. I said to myself: "Ah ha!
Somebody keeping bach."

I knew I was welcome. There is no fear of the stranger in such a
place, for there are no ladies to reassure or propitiate. Permission
to sleep on the floor was granted as soon as asked. I spread out _The
Kansas City Star_, which is a clean sheet, put my verses under my head
for a pillow and was content. Next morning the sun was in my eyes.
There was the odor of good fried bacon in the air.

"Git up and eat a snack, pardner," said my friend the blacksmith. And
while I ate he told me the story of his life.

I had an amusing experience at the town of Belton. I had given an
entertainment at the hotel on the promise of a night's lodging. I
slept late. Over my transom came the breakfast-table talk. "That was a
hot entertainment that young bum gave us last night," said one man.
"He ought to get to work, the dirty lazy loafer," said another.

The schoolmaster spoke up in an effort not to condescend to his
audience: "He is evidently a fraud. I talked to him a long time after
the entertainment. The pieces he recited were certainly not his own. I
have read some of them somewhere. It is too easy a way to get along,
especially when the man is as able to work as this one. Of course in
the old days literary men used to be obliged to do such things. But it
isn't at all necessary in the Twentieth Century. Real poets are highly
paid." Another spoke up: "I don't mind a fake, but he is a rotten
reciter, anyhow. If he had said one more I would have just walked
right out. You noticed ol' Mis' Smith went home after that piece about
the worms." Then came the landlord's voice: "After the show was over I
came pretty near not letting him have his room. All I've got to say is
he don't get any breakfast."

I dressed, opened the doorway serenely, and strolled past the table,
smiling with all the ease of a minister at his own church-social. In
my most ornate manner I thanked the landlord and landlady for their
extreme kindness. I assumed that not one of the gentle-folk had
intended to have me hear their analysis. 'Twas a grand exit. Yet, in
plain language, these people "got my goat." I have struggled with
myself all morning, almost on the point of ordering a marked copy of a
magazine sent to that smart schoolmaster. "_Evidently a fraud!_"

"Goin' wes' harvesin'?"

"Yes, yes. I think I will harvest when I get to Great Bend."

JUNE 18, 1912. Approaching Emporia. I am sitting in the hot sun by the
Santa Fé tracks, after two days of walking those tracks in the rain. I
am near a queer little Mexican house built of old railroad ties.

I had had two sticks of candy begged from a grocer for breakfast. I
was keeping warm by walking fast. Because of the muddy roads and the
sheets of rain coming down it was impossible to leave the tracks. It
was almost impossible to make speed since the ballast underfoot was
almost all of it big rattling broken stone. I had walked that Santa Fé
railroad a day and a half in the drizzle and downpour. It was a little
past noon, and my scanty inner fuel was almost used up. I dared not
stop a minute now, lest I catch cold. There was no station in sight
ahead. When the mists lifted I saw that the tracks went on and on,
straight west to the crack of doom, not even a water-tank in sight.
The mists came down, then lifted once more, and, as though I were
Childe Roland, I suddenly saw a shack to the right, in dimensions
about seven feet each way. It was mostly stove-pipe, and that pipe was
pouring out enough smoke to make three of Aladdin's Jinns. I presume
some one heard me whistling. The little door opened. Two period heads
popped out, "Come in, you slab-sided hobo," they yelled
affectionately. "Come in and get dry." And so my heart was made
suddenly light after a day and a half of hard whistling.

At the inside end of that busy smoke-stack was a roaring redhot stove
about as big as a hat. It had just room enough on top for three
steaming coffee cans at a time. There were four white men with their
chins on their knees completely occupying the floor of one side of the
mansion, and four Mexicans filled the other. Every man was hunched up
to take as little room as possible. It appeared that my only chance
was to move the tins and sit on the stove. But one Mexican sort of sat
on another Mexican and the new white man was accommodated. These
fellows were a double-section gang, for the track is double all along

I dried out pretty quick. The men began to pass up the coffee off the
stove. It strangled and blistered me, it was so hot. The men were
almost to the bottom of the food sections of their buckets and were
beginning to throw perfectly good sandwiches and extra pieces of pie
through the door. I said that if any man had anything to throw away
would he just wait till I stepped outside so I could catch it. They
handed me all I could ever imagine a man eating. It rained and rained
and rained, and I ate till I could eat no more. One man gave me for
dessert the last half of his cup of stewed raisins along with his own
spoon. Good raisins they were, too. A Mexican urged upon me some brown
paper and cigarette tobacco. I was sorry I did not smoke. The men
passed up more and more hot coffee.

That coffee made me into a sort of thermos bottle. On the strength of
it I walked all afternoon through sheets and cataracts. When dark came
I slept in wet clothes in a damp blanket in the hay of a windy livery
stable without catching cold.

Now it is morning. The sky is reasonably clear, the weather is
reasonably warm, but I am no longer a thermos bottle, no, no. I am
sitting on the hottest rock I can find, letting the sun go through my
bones. The coffee in me has turned at last to ice and snow. Emporia,
the Athens of America, is just ahead. Oh, for a hot bath and a clean

A mad dog tried to bite me yesterday morning, when I made a feeble
attempt to leave the track. When I was once back on the ties, he
seemed afraid and would not come closer. His bark was the ghastliest
thing I ever heard. As for his bite, he did not get quite through my

EMPORIA, KANSAS, JUNE 19, 1912. On inquiring at the Emporia General
Delivery for mail, I found your letter telling me to call upon your
friend Professor Kerr. He took my sudden appearance most kindly, and
pardoned my battered attire and the mud to the knees. After a day in
his house I am ready to go on, dry and feasted and warm and clean. The
professor's help seemed to come in just in time. I was a most weary

Thinking it over this morning, the bathtub appears to be the first
outstanding advantage the cultured man has over the half-civilized.
Quite often the folk with swept houses and decent cooking who have
given my poems discriminating attention, who have given me good things
to eat, forget, even when they entertain him overnight, that the
stranger would like to soak himself thoroughly. Many of the working
people seem to keep fairly clean with the washpan as their principal
ally. But the tub is indispensable to the mendicant in the end, unless
he is walking through a land of crystal waterfalls, like North

I am an artificial creature at last, dependent, after all, upon modern
plumbing. 'Tis, perhaps, not a dignified theme, but I retired to the
professor's bathroom and washed off the entire State of Missouri and
the eastern counties of Kansas, and did a deal of laundry work on the
sly. This last was not openly confessed to the professor, but he might
have guessed, I was so cold on the front porch that night.

I shall not soon lose the memory of this the first day of emergence
from the strait paths of St. Francis, this first meeting, since I left
Springfield, with a person on whom I had a conventional social claim.
I had forgotten what the delicacy of a cultured welcome would be like.
The professor's table was a marvel to me. I was astonished to discover
there were such fine distinctions in food and linen. And for all my
troubadour profession, I had almost forgotten there were such
distinctions in books. I have hardly seen one magazine since I left
you. The world where I have been moving reads nothing but newspapers.
It is confusing to bob from one world to the other, to zig-zag across
the social dead-line. I sat in the professor's library a very mixed-up
person, feeling I could hardly stay a minute, yet too heavy-footed to
stir an inch, and immensely grateful and relaxed.

Sooner or later I am going to step up into the rarefied civilized air
once too often and stay there in spite of myself. I shall get a little
too fond of the china and old silver, and forget the fields. Books and
teacups and high-brow conversations are awfully insinuating things, if
you give them time to be. One gets along somehow, and pleasure
alternates with pain, and the sum is the joy of life, while one is
below. But to quit is like coming up to earth after deep-sea diving in
a heavy suit. One scarcely realizes he has been under heavier-than-air
pressure, and has been fighting off great forces, till he has taken
off his diving helmet, as it were. And yet there is a baffling sense
of futility in the restful upper air. I remember it once, long ago, in
emerging in Warren, Ohio, and once in emerging in Macon, Georgia:--the
feeling that the upper world is all tissue paper, that the only
choice a real man can make is to stay below with the great forces of
life forever, even though he be a tramp--the feeling that, to be a
little civilized, we sacrifice enormous powers and joys. For all I was
so tired and so very grateful to the professor, I felt like a bull in
a china shop. I should have been out in the fields, eating grass.


[_Loudly and rapidly with a leader, College yell fashion_]


    Proud men
    Go about,
    Slander me,
    Call me the "Calliope."


    I am the Gutter Dream,
    Tune-maker, born of steam,
    Tooting joy, tooting hope.
    I am the Kallyope,
    Car called the Kallyope.
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    See the flags: snow-white tent,
    See the bear and elephant,
    See the monkey jump the rope,
    Listen to the Kallyope, Kallyope, Kallyope!
    Soul of the rhinoceros
    And the hippopotamus
    (Listen to the lion roar!)
    Jaguar, cockatoot,
    Loons, owls,
    Hoot, Hoot.
    Listen to the lion roar,
    Listen to the lion roar,
    Listen to the lion R-O-A-R!
    Hear the leopard cry for gore,
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Hail the bloody Indian band,
    Hail, all hail the popcorn stand,
    Hail to Barnum's picture there,
    People's idol everywhere,
    Whoop, whoop, whoop, WHOOP!
    Music of the mob am I,
    Circus day's tremendous cry:--
    I am the Kallyope, Kallyope, Kallyope!
    Hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot,
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Sizz, fizz.....


    Born of mobs, born of steam,
    Listen to my golden dream,
    Listen to my golden dream,
    Listen to my G-O-L-D-E-N D-R-E-A-M!
    Whoop whoop whoop whoop WHOOP!
    I will blow the proud folk low,
    Humanize the dour and slow,
    I will shake the proud folk down,
    (Listen to the lion roar!)
    Popcorn crowds shall rule the town--
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Steam shall work melodiously,
    Brotherhood increase.
    You'll see the world and all it holds
    For fifty cents apiece.
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Every day a circus day.


    Well, _almost_ every day.
    Nevermore the sweater's den,
    Nevermore the prison pen.
    Gone the war on land and sea
    That aforetime troubled men.
    Nations all in amity,
    Happy in their plumes arrayed
    In the long bright street parade.
    Bands a-playing every day.


    Well, _almost_ every day.
    I am the Kallyope, Kallyope, Kallyope!
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Hoot, toot, hoot, toot,
    Whoop whoop whoop whoop,
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Sizz, fizz.....


    Every soul
    In the earth's one circus tent!
    Every man a trapeze king
    Then a pleased spectator there.
    On the benches! In the ring!
    While the neighbors gawk and stare
    And the cheering rolls along.
    Almost every day a race
    When the merry starting gong
    Rings, each chariot on the line,
    Every driver fit and fine
    With the steel-spring Roman grace.
    Almost every day a dream,
    Almost every day a dream.
    Every girl,
    Maid or wife,
    Wild with music,
    Eyes a-gleam
    With that marvel called desire:
    Actress, princess, fit for life,
    Armed with honor like a knife,
    Jumping thro' the hoops of fire.
    (Listen to the lion roar!)
    Making all the children shout
    Clowns shall tumble all about,
    Painted high and full of song
    While the cheering rolls along,
    Tho' they scream,
    Tho' they rage,
    Every beast
    In his cage,
    Every beast
    In his den
    That aforetime troubled men.


    I am the Kallyope, Kallyope, Kallyope,
    Tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope;
    Shaking window-pane and door
    With a crashing cosmic tune,
    With the war-cry of the spheres,
    Rhythm of the roar of noon,
    Rhythm of Niagara's roar,
    Voicing planet, star and moon,
    SHRIEKING of the better years.
    Prophet-singers will arise,
    Prophets coming after me,
    Sing my song in softer guise
    With more delicate surprise;
    I am but the pioneer
    Voice of the Democracy;
    I am the gutter dream,
    I am the golden dream,
    Singing science, singing steam.
    I will blow the proud folk down,
    (Listen to the lion roar!)
    I am the Kallyope, Kallyope, Kallyope,
    Tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope, tooting hope,
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!
    Hoot, toot, hoot toot, hoot toot, hoot toot,
    Whoop whoop, whoop whoop,
    Whoop whoop, whoop whoop,
    Willy willy willy wah HOO!

SUNDAY MORNING, JUNE 23, 1912. I am writing on the top of a pile of
creosote-soaked ties between the Santa Fé tracks and the trail that
runs parallel to the tracks. Florence, Kansas, is somewhere ahead.

In the East the railroads and machinery choke the land to death and it
was there I made my rule against them. But the farther West I go the
more the very life of the country seems to depend upon them. I
suppose, though, that some day, even out West here, the rule against
the railroad will be a good rule.

Meanwhile let me say that my Ruskinian prejudices are temporarily
overcome by the picturesqueness and efficiency of the Santa Fé. It is
double-tracked, and every four miles is kept in order by a hand-car
crew that is spinning back and forth all the time. The air seems to be
full of hand-cars.

Walking in a hurry to make a certain place by nightfall I have become
acquainted with these section hands, and, most delightful to relate,
have ridden in their iron conveyances, putting my own back into the
work. Half or three-fourths of the employees are Mexicans who are as
ornamental in the actual landscape as they are in a Remington drawing.
These Mexicans are tractable serfs of the Santa Fé. If there were
enough miles of railroad in Mexico to keep all the inhabitants busy on
section, perhaps the internal difficulties could be ended. These peons
live peacefully next to the tracks in houses built by the company
from old ties. The ties are placed on end, side by side, with plaster
in the cracks, on a tiny oblong two-room plan. There is a little
roofed court between the rooms. A farmer told me that the company
tried Greek serfs for a while, but they made trouble for outsiders and
murdered each other.

The road is busy as busy can be. Almost any time one can see enormous
freight-trains rolling by or mile-a-minute passenger trains. Gates are
provided for each farmer's right of way. I was told by an exceptional
Mexican with powers of speech that the efficient dragging of the
wagon-roads, especially the "New Santa Fé Trail" that follows the
railroad, is owing to the missionary work of King, the split-log drag
man, who was employed to go up and down this land agitating his hobby.

When the weather is good, touring automobiles whiz past. They have
pennants showing they are from Kansas City, Emporia, New York or
Chicago. They have camping canvas and bedding on the back seats of the
car, or strapped in the rear. They are on camping tours to Colorado
Springs and the like pleasure places. Some few avow they are going to
the coast. About five o'clock in the evening some man making a local
trip is apt to come along alone. He it is that wants the other side of
the machine weighed down. He it is that will offer me a ride and spin
me along from five to twenty-five miles before supper. This delightful
use that may be made of an automobile in rounding out a day's walk has
had something to do with mending my prejudice against it, despite the
grand airs of the tourists that whirl by at midday. I still maintain
that the auto is a carnal institution, to be shunned by the truly
spiritual, but there are times when I, for one, get tired of being

Much of the country east of Emporia is hilly and well-wooded and
hedged like Missouri. But now I am getting into the range region.
Yesterday, after several miles of treeless land that had never known
the plough, I said to myself: "Now I am really West." And my
impression was reinforced when I reached a grand baronial
establishment called "Clover Hill Ranch." It was flanked by the houses
of the retainers. In the foreground and a little to the side was the
great stone barn for the mules and horses. Back on the little hill,
properly introduced by ceremonious trees, was the ranch house itself.
And before it was my lord on his ranching charger. The aforesaid lord
created quite an atmosphere of lordliness as he refused work in the
alfalfa harvest to a battered stranger who bowed too low and begged
too hard, perhaps. On the porch was my lady, feeding bread and honey
to the beautiful young prince of the place.

I have not yet reached the wheat belt. Since the alfalfa harvest is on
here, I shall try for that a bit.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON, JUNE 30, 1912. In the spare room of a Mennonite
farmer, who lives just inside the wheat belt.

This is going to be a long Sunday afternoon; so make up your minds for
a long letter. I did not get work in the alfalfa. Yet there is news. I
have been staying a week with this Mennonite family shocking wheat for
them, though I am not anywhere near Great Bend.

Before I tell you of the harvest, I must tell you of these Mennonites.
They are a dear people. I have heard from their reverent lips the name
of their founder, Menno Simonis, who was born about the time of
Columbus and Luther and other such worthies. They are as opposed to
carnal literature as I am to tailor-made clothes, and I hold they are
perfectly correct in allowing no fashion magazines in the house. Such
modern books as they read deal with practical local philanthropies and
great international mission movements, and their interdenominational
feelings for all Christendom are strong. Yet they hold to their
ancient verities, and antiquity broods over their meditations.

For instance I found in their bookcase an endless dialogue epic called
_The Wandering Soul_, in which this soul, seeking mainly for
information, engages in stilted conversation with Adam, Noah, and
Simon Cleophas. Thereby the Wandering Soul is informed as to the
orthodox history and chronology of the world from the Creation to the
destruction of Jerusalem. The wood-cuts are devotional. They are worth
walking to Kansas to see. The book had its third translation into
Pennsylvania English in 1840, but several American editions had
existed in German before that, and several German editions in Germany.
It was originally written in the Dutch language and was popular among
the Mennonites there. But it looks as if it was printed by Adam to
last forever and scare bad boys.

Let us go to meeting. All the women are on their own side of the
aisle. All of them have a fairly uniform Quakerish sort of dress of no
prescribed color. In front are the most pious, who wear a black
scoop-bonnet. Some have taken this off, and show the inevitable
"prayer-covering" underneath. It is the plainest kind of a lace-cap,
awfully coquettish on a pretty head. It is intended to mortify the
flesh, and I suppose it _is_ unbecoming to _some_ women.

All the scoop-bonnets are not black. Toward the middle of the church,
behold a cream-satin, a soft gray, a dull moon-gold. One young woman,
moved, I fear, by the devil, turns and looks across the aisle at us.
An exceedingly demure bow is tied all too sweetly under the chin, in a
decorous butterfly style. Fie! fie! Is this mortifying the flesh? And
I note with pain that the black bonnets grow fewer and fewer toward
the rear of the meeting house.

Here come the children, with bobbing headgear of every color of the
rainbow, yet the same scoop-pattern still. They have been taking
little walks and runs between Sunday-school and church, and are all
flushed and panting. But I would no more criticise the color of their
headgear than the color in their faces. Some of them squeeze in among
the black rows in front and make piety reasonable. But we noted by the
door as they entered something that both the church and the world must
abhor. Seated as near to the men's side as they can get, with a
mixture of shame and defiance in their faces, are certain daughters of
the Mennonites who insist on dressing after the fashions that come
from Paris and Kansas City and Emporia. By the time the rumors of what
is proper in millinery have reached this place they are a
disconcerting mixture of cherries, feathers and ferns. And somehow
there are too many mussy ribbons on the dresses.

We can only guess how these rebels must suffer under the concentrated
silent prayers of the godly. Poor honest souls! they take to this
world's vain baggage and overdo it. Why do they not make up their
minds to serve the devil sideways, like that sly puss with the
butterfly bow?

On the men's side of the house the division on dress is more acute.
The Holiness movement, the doctrine of the Second Blessing that has
stirred many rural Methodist groups, has attacked the Mennonites also.
Those who dispute for this new ism of sanctification leave off their
neckties as a sign. Those that retain their neckties, satisfied with
what Menno Simonis taught, have a hard time remaining in a state of
complete calm. The temptation to argue the matter is almost more than
flesh can bear.

But, so far as I could discover, there was no silent prayer over the
worst lapse of these people. What remains of my Franciscan soul was
hurt to discover that the buggy-shed of the meeting-house was full of
automobiles. And to meet a Mennonite on the road without a necktie,
his wife in the blackest of bonnets, honking along in one of those
glittering brazen machines, almost shakes my confidence in the Old
Jerusalem Gospel.

Yet let me not indulge in disrespect. Every spiritual warfare must
abound in its little ironies. They are keeping their rule against
finery as well as I am keeping mine against the railroad. And they
have their own way of not being corrupted by money. Their ministry is
unsalaried. Their preachers are sometimes helpers on the farms,
sometimes taken care of outright, the same as I am.

As will later appear, despite some inconsistencies, the Mennonites
have a piety as literal as any to be found on the earth. Since they
are German there is no lack of thought in their system. I attended one
of their quarterly conferences and I have never heard better
discourses on the distinctions between the four gospels. The men who
spoke were scholars.

The Mennonites make it a principle to ignore politics, and are
non-resistants in war. I have read in the life of one of their heroes
what a terrible time his people had in the Shenandoah valley in the
days of Sheridan.... Three solemn tracts are here on my dresser. The
first is against church organs, embodying a plea for simplicity and
the spending of such money on local benevolences and world-wide
missions. The tract aptly compares the church-organ to the Thibetan
prayer-wheel, and later to praying by phonograph. A song is a prayer
to them, and they sing hymns and nothing but hymns all week long.

The next tract is on non-conformity to this world, and insists our
appearance should indicate our profession, and that fashions drive the
poor away from the church. It condemns jewels and plaiting of the
hair, etc., and says that such things stir up a wicked and worldly
lust in the eyes of youth. This tract goes so far as to put worldly
pictures under the ban. Then comes another, headed Bible Teaching on
Dress. It goes on to show that every true Christian, especially that
vain bird, the female, should wear something like the Mennonite
uniform to indicate the line of separation from "the World." I have a
good deal of sympathy for all this, for indeed is it not briefly
comprehended in my own rule: "Carry no baggage"?

These people celebrate communion every half year, and at the same time
they practise the ritual of washing the feet. Since Isadora Duncan has
rediscovered the human foot æsthetically, who dares object to it in
ritual? It is all a question of what we are trained to expect.
Certainly these people are respecters of the human foot and not
ashamed to show it. Next to the way their women have of making a dash
to find their gauzy prayer-covering, which they put on for grace at
table and Bible-lesson before breakfast, their most striking habit is
the way both men and women go about in very clean bare feet after
supper. Next to this let me note their resolve to have no profane hour
whatsoever. When not actually at work they sit and sing hymns, each
Christian on his own hook as he has leisure.

My first evening among these dear strangers I was sitting alone by the
front door, looking out on the wheat. I was thrilled to see the
fairest member of the household enter, not without grace and dignity.
Her prayer covering was on her head, her white feet were shining like
those of Nicolette and her white hymn-book was in her hand. She
ignored me entirely. She was rapt in trance. She sat by the window and
sang through the book, looking straight at a rose in the wall-paper.

I lingered there, reading _The Wandering Soul_ just as oblivious of
her presence as she was of mine. Oh, no; there was no art in the
selection of her songs! I remember one which was to this effect:

    "Don't let it be said:
    'Too late, too late
    To enter that Golden Gate.'
    Be ready, for soon
    The time will come
    To enter that Golden Gate."

On the whole she had as much right to plunk down and sing hymns out of
season as I have to burst in and quote poetry to peaceful and
unprotected households.

I would like to insert a discourse here on the pleasure and the
naturalness and the humanness of testifying to one's gospel whatever
that gospel may be, barefooted or golden-slippered or iron-shod. The
best we may win in return may be but a kindly smile. We may never make
one convert. Still the duty of testifying remains, and is enjoined by
the invisible powers and makes for the health of the soul. This
Mennonite was a priestess of her view of the truth and comes of
endless generations of such snow-footed apostles. I presume the sect
ceased to enlarge when the Quakers ceased to thrive, but I make my
guess that it does not crumble as fast as the Quakers, having more
German stolidity.

Let me again go forward, testifying to my particular lonely gospel in
the face of such pleasant smiles and incredulous questions as may
come. I wish I could start a sturdy sect like old Menno Simonis did.
They should dress as these have done, and be as stubborn and rigid in
their discipline. They should farm as these have done, but on reaching
the point where the Mennonite buys the automobile, that money and
energy should go into the making of cross-roads palaces for the
people, golden as the harvest field, and disciplined well-parked
villages, good as a psalm, and cities fair as a Mennonite lady in her
prayer-covering, delicate and noble as Athens the unforgotten, the

The Mennonite doctrine of non-participation in war or politics leads
them to confine their periodic literature to religious journals
exclusively, plus _The Drover's Journal_ to keep them up to date on
the prices of farm-products. There is only one Mennonite political
event, the coming of Christ to judge the earth. Of that no man knoweth
the day or the hour. We had best be prepared and not play politics or
baseball or anything. Just keep unspotted and harvest the wheat.

"Goin' wes' harvesin'?"

I have harvested, thank you. Four days and a half I have shocked wheat
in these prayer-consecrated fields that I see even now from my window.
And I have good hard dollars in my pocket, which same dollars are
against my rules.

I will tell you of the harvest in the next letter.


    _On the road to nowhere
    What wild oats did you sow
    When you left your father's house
    With your cheeks aglow?
    Eyes so strained and eager
    To see what you might see?
    Were you thief or were you fool
    Or most nobly free?
    Were the tramp-days knightly,
    True sowing of wild seed?
    Did you dare to make the songs
    Vanquished workmen need?
    Did you waste much money
    To deck a leper's feast?
    Love the truth, defy the crowd,
    Scandalize the priest?
    On the road to nowhere
    What wild oats did you sow?
    Stupids find the nowhere-road
    Dusty, grim and slow.
    Ere their sowing's ended
    They turn them on their track:
    Look at the caitiff craven wights
    Repentant, hurrying back!_

    _Grown ashamed of nowhere,
    Of rags endured for years,
    Lust for velvet in their hearts,
    Pierced with Mammon's spears.
    All but a few fanatics
    Give up their darling goal,
    Seek to be as others are,
    Stultify the soul.
    Reapings now confront them,
    Glut them, or destroy,
    Curious seeds, grain or weeds,
    Sown with awful joy.
    Hurried is their harvest,
    They make soft peace with men.
    Pilgrims pass. They care not,
    Will not tramp again.
    O nowhere, golden nowhere!
    Sages and fools go on
    To your chaotic ocean,
    To your tremendous dawn.
    Far in your fair dream-haven,
    Is nothing or is all ...
    They press on, singing, sowing
    Wild deeds without recall!_


_In Kansas: The First Harvest_

MONDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 1, 1912. A little west of Newton, Kansas. In
the public library of a village whose name I forget.

Here is the story of how I came to harvest. I was by chance taking a
short respite from the sunshine, last Monday noon, on the porch of the
Mennonite farmer. I had had dinner further back. But the good folk
asked me to come in and have dessert anyway. It transpired that one of
the two harvest hands was taking his farewell meal. He was obliged to
fill a contract to work further West, a contract made last year. I
timidly suggested I might take his place. To my astonishment I was
engaged at once. This fellow was working for two dollars a day, but I
agreed to $1.75, seeing my predecessor was a skilled man and twice as
big as I was. My wages, as I discovered, included three rich meals,
and a pretty spare room to sleep in, and a good big bucket to bathe in

I anticipate history at this point by telling how at the end of the
week my wages looked as strange to me as a bunch of unexpected
ducklets to a hen. They were as curious to contemplate as a group of
mischievous nieces who have come to spend the day with their
embarrassed, fluttering maiden aunt.

I took my wages to Newton, and spent all on the vanities of this life.
First the grandest kind of a sombrero, so I shall not be sunstruck in
the next harvest-field, which I narrowly escaped in this. Next, the
most indestructible of corduroys. Then I had my shoes re-soled and
bought a necktie that was like the oriflamme of Navarre, and attended
to several other points of vanity. I started out again, dead broke and
happy. If I work hereafter I can send most all my wages home, for I
am now in real travelling costume.

But why linger over the question of wages till I show I earned those

Let me tell you of a typical wheat-harvesting day. The field is two
miles from the house. We make preparations for a twelve-hour siege.
Halters and a barrel of water and a heap of alfalfa for the mules,
binder-twine and oil for the reaper and water-jugs for us are loaded
into the spring wagon. Two mules are hitched in front, two are led
behind. The new reaper was left in the field yesterday. We make haste.
We must be at work by the time the dew dries. The four mules are soon
hitched to the reaper and proudly driven into the wheat by the son of
the old Mennonite. This young fellow carries himself with proper
dignity as heir of the farm. He is a credit to the father. He will not
curse the mules, though those animals forget their religion sometimes,
and act after the manner of their kind. The worst he will do will be
to call one of them an old cow. I suppose when he is vexed with a cow
he calls it an old mule. My other companion is a boy of nineteen from
a Mennonite community in Pennsylvania. He sets me a pace. Together we
build the sheaves into shocks, of eight or ten sheaves each, put so
they will not be shaken by an ordinary Kansas wind. The wind has been
blowing nearly all the time at a rate which in Illinois would mean a
thunderstorm in five minutes, and sometimes the clouds loom in the
thunderstorm way, yet there is not a drop of rain, and the clouds are
soon gone.

In the course of the week the boy and I have wrestled with heavy ripe
sheaves, heavier green sheaves, sheaves full of Russian thistles and
sheaves with the string off. The boy, as he sings _The day-star hath
risen_, twists a curious rope of straw and reties the loose bundles
with one turn of the hand. I try, but cannot make the knot. Once all
sheaves were so bound.

Much of the wheat must be cut heavy and green because there is a
liability to sudden storms or hail that will bury it in mud, or soften
the ground and make it impossible to drag the reaper, or hot winds
that suddenly ripen the loose grain and shake it into the earth. So it
is an important matter to get the wheat out when it is anywhere near
ready. I found that two of the girls were expecting to take the place
of the departing hand, if I had not arrived.

The Mennonite boy picked up two sheaves to my one at the beginning of
the week. To-day I learn to handle two at a time and he immediately
handles three at a time. He builds the heart of the sheaf. Then we add
the outside together. He is always marching ahead and causing me to
feel ashamed.

The Kansas grasshopper makes himself friendly. He bites pieces out of
the back of my shirt the shape and size of the ace of spades. Then he
walks into the door he has made and loses himself. Then he has to be
helped out, in one way or another.

The old farmer, too stiff for work, comes out on his dancing pony and
rides behind the new reaper. This reaper was bought only two days ago
and he beams with pride upon it. It seems that he and his son almost
swore, trying to tinker the old one. The farmer looks with even more
pride upon the field, still a little green, but mostly golden. He
dismounts and tests the grain, threshing it out in his hand, figuring
the average amount in several typical heads. He stands off, and is
guilty of an æsthetic thrill. He says of the sea of gold: "I wish I
could have a photograph of that." (O eloquent word, for a Mennonite!)
Then he plays at building half a dozen shocks, then goes home till
late in the afternoon. We three are again masters of the field.

We are in a level part of Kansas, not a rolling range as I found it
further east. The field is a floor. Hedges gradually faded from the
landscape in counties several days' journey back, leaving nothing but
unbroken billows to the horizon. But the hedges have been resumed in
this region. Each time round the enormous field we stop at a break in
the line of those untrimmed old thorn-trees. Here we rest a moment and
drink from the water-jug. To keep from getting sunstruck I profanely
waste the water, pouring it on my head, and down my neck to my feet. I
came to this farm wearing a derby, and have had to borrow a slouch
with a not-much-wider rim from the farmer. It was all the extra
headgear available in this thrifty region. Because of that
not-much-wider rim my face is sunburned all over every day. I have not
yet received my wages to purchase my sombrero.

As we go round the field, the Mennonite boy talks religion, or is
silent. I have caught the spirit of the farm, and sing all the
hymn-tunes I can remember. Sometimes the wind turns hot. Perspiration
cannot keep up with evaporation. Our skins are dry as the dryest
stubble. Then we stand and wait for a little streak of cool wind. It
is pretty sure to come in a minute. "That's a nice air," says the boy,
and gets to work. Once it was so hot all three of us stopped five
minutes by the hedge. Then it was I told them the story of the hens I
met just west of Emporia.

I had met ten hens walking single-file into the town of Emporia. I was
astonished to meet educated hens. Each one was swearing. I would not
venture, I added, to repeat what they said.

_Not a word from the Mennonites._

I continued in my artless way, showing how I stopped the next to the
last hen, though she was impatient to go on. I inquired "Where are you
all travelling?" She said "To Emporia." And so I asked, "Why are you
swearing so?" She answered, "Don't you know about the Sunday-school
picnic?" I paused in my story.

_No word from the Mennonites. One of them rose rather impatiently._

I poured some water on my head and continued: "I stopped the last hen.
I asked: "Why are you swearing, sister? And what about the picnic?"
She replied: "These Emporia people are going to give a Sunday-school
picnic day after to-morrow. Meantime all us hens have to lay devilled

"We do not laugh at jokes about swearing," said the Mennonite driver,
and climbed back on to his reaper. My partner strode solemnly out into
the sun and began to pile sheaves.

Each round we study our shadows on the stubble more closely, thrilled
with the feeling that noon creeps on. And now, up the road we see a
bit of dust and a rig. No, it is not the woman we are looking for, but
a woman with supplies for other harvesters. We work on and on, while
four disappointing rigs go by. At last appears a sunbonnet we know.
Our especial Mennonite maid is sitting quite straight on the edge of
the seat and holding the lines almost on a level with her chin. She
drives through the field toward us. We motion her to the gap in the

We unhitch, and lead the mules to the gap, where she joins us. With
much high-minded expostulation the men try to show the mules they
should eat alfalfa and not hedge-thorns. The mules are at last tied
out in the sun to a wheel of the wagon, away from temptation, with
nothing but alfalfa near them.

The meal is spread with delicacy, yet there is a heap of it. With a
prayer of thanksgiving, sometimes said by Tilly, sometimes by one of
the men, we begin to eat. To a man in a harvest-field a square meal is
more thrilling than a finely-acted play.

The thrill goes not only to the toes and the finger-tips, but to the
utmost ramifications of the spirit. Men indoors in offices, whose
bodies actually require little, cannot think of eating enormously
without thinking of sodden overeating, with condiments to rouse, and
heavy meats and sweets to lull the flabby body till the last faint
remnants of appetite have departed and the man is a monument of sleepy

Eating in a harvest field is never so. Every nerve in the famished
body calls frantically for reinforcements. And the nerves and soul of
a man are strangely alert together. All we ate for breakfast turned to
hot ashes in our hearts at eleven o'clock. I sing of the body and of
the eternal soul, revived again! To feel life actually throbbing back
into one's veins, life immense in passion, pulse and power, is not

Tilly has brought us knives, and no forks. It would have been more
appropriate if we had eaten from the ends of swords. We are finally
recuperated from the fevers of the morning and almost strong enough
for the long, long afternoon fight with the sun. Fresh water is poured
from a big glittering can into the jugs we have sucked dry. Tilly
reloads the buggy and is gone. After another sizzling douse of water
without and within, our long afternoon pull commences.

The sun has become like a roaring lion, and we wrestle with the
sheaves as though we had him by the beard. The only thing that keeps
up my nerve in the dizziness is the remembrance of the old Mennonite's
proverb at breakfast that as long as a man can eat and sweat he is
safe. My hands inside my prickling gloves seem burning off. The wheat
beards there are like red-hot needles. But I am still sweating a
little in the chest, and the Mennonite boy is cheerfully singing:

    "When I behold the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of Glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss
    And pour contempt on all my pride."

Two-thirds round the field, methinks the jig is up. Then the sun is
hidden by a friend of ours in the sky, just the tiniest sort of a
cloud and we march on down the rows. The merciful little whiff of
dream follows the sun for half an hour.

The most terrible heat is at half-past two. Somehow we pull through
till four o'clock. Then we say to ourselves: "We can stand this
four-o'clock heat, because we have stood it hotter."

'Tis a grim matter of comparison. We speed up a little and trot a
little as the sun reaches the top of the western hedge. A bit later
the religious hired man walks home to do the chores. I sing down the
rows by myself. It is glorious to work now. The endless reiterations
of the day have developed a certain dancing rhythm in one's nerves,
one is intoxicated with his own weariness and the conceit that comes
with seizing the sun by the mane, like Sampson.

It is now that the sun gracefully acknowledges his defeat. He shows
through the hedge as a great blur, that is all. Then he becomes a
mist-wrapped golden mountain that some fairy traveller might climb in
enchanted shoes. This sun of ours is no longer an enemy, but a
fantasy, a vision and a dream.

Now the elderly proprietor is back on his dancing pony. He is
following the hurrying reaper in a sort of ceremonial fashion,
delighted to see the wheat go down so fast. At last this particular
field is done. We finish with a comic-tragedy. Some little rabbits
scoot, panic-stricken, from the last few yards of still-standing
grain. The old gentleman on horseback and his son afoot soon
out-manoeuvre the lively creatures. We have rabbit for supper at the
sacrifice of considerable Mennonite calm.

It was with open rejoicing on the part of all that we finished the
field nearest the house, the last one, by Saturday noon. The boy and I
had our own special thrill in catching up with the reaper, which had
passed by us so often in our rounds. As the square in mid-field grows
smaller the reaper has to turn oftener, and turning uses up much more
time than at first appears.

The places where the armies of wheat-sheaves are marshalled are magic
places, despite their sweat and dust. There is nothing small in the
panorama. All the lines of the scene are epic. The binder-twine is
invisible, and has not altered the eternal classic form of the sheaf.
There is a noble dignity and ease in the motion of a new reaper on a
level field. A sturdy Mennonite devotee marching with a great bundle
of wheat under each arm and reaching for a third makes a picture
indeed, an essay on sunshine beyond the brush of any impressionist.
Each returning day while riding to the field, when one has a bit of
time to dream, one feels these things. One feels also the essentially
patriarchal character of the harvest. One thinks of the Book of Ruth,
and the Jewish feasts of ingathering. All the new Testament parables
ring in one's ears, parables of sowing and reaping, of tares and good
grain, of Bread and of Leaven and the story of the Disciples plucking
corn. As one looks on the half-gathered treasure he thinks on the
solemn words: "For the Bread of God is that which cometh down out of
Heaven and giveth life unto the World," and the rest of that sermon on
the Bread of Life, which has so many meanings.

This Sunday before breakfast, I could fully enter into the daily
prayers, that at times had appeared merely quaint to me, and in my
heart I said "Amen" to the special thanksgiving the patriarch lifted
up for the gift of the fruit of the land. I was happy indeed that I
had had the strength to bear my little part in the harvest of a noble
and devout household, as well as a hand in the feeding of the wide

What I, a stranger, have done in this place, thirty thousand strangers
are doing just a little to the west. We poor tramps are helping to
garner that which reestablishes the nations. If only for a little
while, we have bent our backs over the splendid furrows, to save a
shining gift that would otherwise rot, or vanish away.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON, JULY FOURTH, 1912. In the shadow of a lonely
windmill between Raymond and Ellinwood, Kansas.

I arrived hot and ravenous at Raymond about eleven A.M. on this
glorious Independence Day, having walked twelve miles facing a strange
wind. At first it seemed fairly cool, because it travelled at the rate
of an express train. But it was really hot and alkaline, and almost
burnt me up. I had had for breakfast a cooky, some raisins and a piece
of cheese, purchased with my booklet of rhymes at a grocery. By the
time I reached Raymond I was fried and frantic.

The streets were deserted. I gathered from the station-master that
almost everyone had gone to the Dutch picnic in the grove near
Ellinwood. The returns for the Johnson-Flynn fight were to be received
there beneath the trees, and a potent variety of dry-state beverage
was to flow free. The unveracious station-master declared this
beverage was made of equal parts iron-rust, patent medicine and
rough-on-rats, added to a barrel of brown rain-water. He appeared to
be prejudiced against it.

I walked down the street. Just as I had somehow anticipated, I spied
out a certain type of man. He was alone in his restaurant and I
crouched my soul to spring. The only man left in town is apt to be a
soft-hearted party. "Here, as sure as my name is tramp, I will wrestle
with a defenceless fellow-being."

Like many a restaurant in Kansas, it was a sort of farm-hand's
Saturday night paradise. If a man cannot loaf in a saloon he will loaf
in a restaurant. Then certain problems of demand and supply arise
according to circumstances and circumlocutions.

I obtained leave for the ice-water without wrestling. I almost emptied
the tank. Then, with due art, I offered to recite twenty poems to the
solitary man, a square meal to be furnished at the end, if the rhymes
were sufficiently fascinating.

Assuming a judicial attitude on the lunch-counter stool he put me in
the arm-chair by the ice-chest and told me to unwind myself. As usual,
I began with _The Proud Farmer_, _The Illinois Village_ and _The
Building of Springfield_, which three in series contain my whole
gospel, directly or by implication. Then I wandered on through all
sorts of rhyme. He nodded his head like a mandarin, at the end of each
recital. Then he began to get dinner. He said he liked my poetry, and
he was glad I came in, for he would feel more like getting something
to eat himself. I sat on and on by the ice-chest while he prepared a
meal more heating than the morning wind or the smell of fire-crackers
in the street. First, for each man, a slice of fried ham large enough
for a whole family. Then French fried potatoes by the platterful. Then
three fried eggs apiece. There was milk with cream on top to be poured
from a big granite bucket as we desired it. There was a can of beans
with tomato sauce. There was sweet apple-butter. There were canned
apples. There was a pot of coffee. I moved over from the ice-chest and
we talked and ate till half-past one. I began to feel that I was solid
as an iron man and big as a Colossus of Rhodes. I would like to report
our talk, but this letter must end somewhere. I agreed with my host's
opinions on everything but the temperance question. He did not believe
in _total_ abstinence. On that I remained noncommittal. Eating as I
had, how could I take a stand against my benefactor even though the
issue were the immortal one of man's sinful weakness for drink? The
ham and ice water were going to my head as it was. And I could have
eaten more. I could have eaten a fat Shetland pony.

My host explained that he also travelled at times, but did not carry
poetry. He gave me much box-car learning. Then, curious to relate, he
dug out maps and papers, and showed me how to take up a claim in
Oregon, a thing I did not in the least desire to do. God bless him in
basket and in store, afoot or at home.

This afternoon the ham kept on frying within me, not uncomfortably. I
stopped and drank at every windmill. Now it is about four o'clock in
the afternoon and I am in the shadow of one more. I have found a
bottle which just fits my hip pocket which I have washed and will use
as a canteen henceforth. When one knows he has his drink with him, he
does not get so thirsty.

But I have put down little to show you the strange intoxication that
has pervaded this whole day. The inebriating character of the air and
the water and the intoxication that comes with the very sight of the
wind-mills spinning alone, and the elation that comes with the
companionship of the sun, and the gentleness of the occasional good
Samaritans, are not easily conveyed in words. When one's spirit is
just right for this sort of thing it all makes as good an Independence
Day as folks are having anywhere in this United States, even at

THURSDAY, JULY 5, 1912. In the office of the Ellinwood livery stable
in the morning.

Everyone came home drunk from the Dutch picnic last night. Ellinwood
roared and Ellinwood snorted. I reached the place from the east just
as the noisy revellers arrived from the south.

Ellinwood is an old German town full of bar-rooms, forced by the
sentiment of the dry voters in surrounding territory to turn into
restaurants, but only of late. The bar-fixtures are defiantly
retained. Ever and anon Ellinwood takes to the woods with malicious

Many of the citizens were in a mad-dog fury because Flynn had not
licked Johnson. This town seems to be of the opinion that that battle
was important. The proprietor of the most fashionable hotel
monopolized the 'phone on his return from the woods. He called up
everybody in town. His conversation was always the same. "What'd ya
think of the fight?" And without waiting for answer: "I'll bet one
hundred thousand dollars that Flynn can lick Johnson in a fair fight.
It's a disgrace to this nation that black rascal kin lay hands on a
white man. I'll bet a hundred thousand dollars.... A hundred thousand
dollars ..." etc.

I sat a long time waiting for him to get through. At last I put in my
petition at another hostelrie. This host was intoxicated, but gentle.
In exchange for what I call the squarest kind of a meal I recited the
most cooling verses I knew to a somewhat distracted, rather alcoholic
company of harvest hands. First I recited a poem in praise of Lincoln
and then one in praise of the uplifting influence of the village
church. Then, amid qualified applause, I distributed my tracts, and
retreated to this stable for the night.


    _O, I have walked in Kansas
    Through many a harvest field
    And piled the sheaves of glory there
    And down the wild rows reeled:_

    _Each sheaf a little yellow sun,
    A heap of hot-rayed gold;
    Each binder like Creation's hand
    To mould suns, as of old._

    _Straight overhead the orb of noon
    Beat down with brimstone breath:
    The desert wind from south and west
    Was blistering flame and death._

    _Yet it was gay in Kansas,
    A-fighting that strong sun;
    And I and many a fellow-tramp
    Defied that wind and won._

    _And we felt free in Kansas
    From any sort of fear,
    For thirty thousand tramps like us
    There harvest every year._

    _She stretches arms for them to come,
    She roars for helpers then,
    And so it is in Kansas
    That tramps, one month, are men._

    _We sang in burning Kansas
    The songs of Sabbath-school,
    The "Day Star" flashing in the East,
    The "Vale of Eden" cool._

    _We sang in splendid Kansas
    "The flag that set us free"--
    That march of fifty thousand men
    With Sherman to the sea._

    _We feasted high in Kansas
    And had much milk and meat.
    The tables groaned to give us power
    Wherewith to save the wheat._

    _Our beds were sweet alfalfa hay
    Within the barn-loft wide.
    The loft doors opened out upon
    The endless wheat-field tide._

    _I loved to watch the wind-mills spin
    And watch that big moon rise.
    I dreamed and dreamed with lids half-shut,
    The moonlight in my eyes._

    _For all men dream in Kansas
    By noonday and by night,
    By sunrise yellow, red and wild
    And moonrise wild and white._

    _The wind would drive the glittering clouds,
    The cottonwoods would croon,
    And past the sheaves and through the leaves
    Came whispers from the moon._


_In Kansas: the Second and Third Harvest_

Two miles north of Great Bend. In the heart of the greatest wheat
country in America, and in the midst of the harvest-time, Sunday, July
7, 1912.

I am meditating on the ways of Destiny. It seems to me I am here, not
altogether by chance. But just why I am here, time must reveal.

Last Friday I had walked the ten miles from Ellinwood to Great Bend by
9 A.M. I went straight to the general delivery, where a package of
tracts and two or three weeks' mail awaited me. I read about half
through the letter-pile as I sat on a rickety bench in the public
square. Some very loud-mouthed negroes were playing horse-shoe
obstreperously. I began to wish Flynn had whipped Johnson. I was
thinking of getting away from there, when two white men, evidently
harvesters, sat down near me and diluted the color scheme.

One man said: "Harvest-wages this week are from two dollars and fifty
cents up to four dollars. We are experienced men and worth three
dollars and fifty cents." Then a German farmer came and negotiated
with them in vain. He wanted to hold them down to three dollars
apiece. He had his automobile to take his crew away that morning.

Then a fellow in citified clothes came to me and asked: "Can you
follow a reaper and shock?" I said: "_Show me the wheat._" So far as I
remember, it is the first time in my life anyone ever hunted me out
and _asked_ me to work for him. He put me into his buggy and drove me
about two miles north to this place, just the region John Humphrey
told me to find, though he did not specify this farm. I was offered
$2.50 and keep, as the prophet foretold. The man who drove me out has
put his place this year into the hands of a tenant who is my direct
boss. I may not be able to last out, but all is well so far. I have
made an acceptable hand, keeping up with the reaper by myself, and I
feel something especial awaits me. But the reaper breaks down so often
I do not know whether I can keep up with it without help when it
begins going full-speed.

These people do not attend church like the Mennonites. The tenant
wanted me to break the Sabbath and help him in the alfalfa to-day. He
suggested that neither he nor I was so narrow-minded or superstitious
as to be a "Sunday man." Besides he couldn't work the alfalfa at all
without one more hand. I did not tell him so, but I felt I needed all
Sunday to catch up on my tiredness. I suspect that my refusal to
violate the Sabbath vexed him.

There has been a terrible row of some kind going on behind the barn
all afternoon. Maybe he is working off his vexation. At last the
tenant's wife has gone out to "see about that racket." Now she comes
in. She tells me they have been trying to break a horse.

The same farm, two miles north of Great Bend, July 8, 1912.

How many times in the counties further back I have asked with fear and
misgiving for permission to work in the alfalfa, and have been
repulsed when I confessed to the lack of experience! And now this
morning I have pitched alfalfa hay with the best of them. We had to go
to work early while the dew softened the leaves. It is a kind of
clover. Once perfectly dry, the leaves crumble off when the hay is
shaken. Then we must quit. The leaves are the nourishing part.

The owner of the place, the citified party who drove me out here the
other day and who is generally back in town, was on top of that stack
this morning, his collar off, his town shirt and pants somewhat the
worse for the exertion. He puffed like a porpoise, for he was putting
in place all the hay we men handed up to him. We lifted the alfalfa in
a long bundle, using our three forks at one time. We worked like
drilled soldiers, then went in to early dinner.

This is a short note written while the binder takes the necessary
three turns round the new wheatfield that the tenant's brother and I
are starting to conquer this afternoon. Three swaths of four bundles
each must be cut, then I will start on my rounds, piling them into
shocks of twelve bundles each.

I am right by the R. F. D. box that goes with this farm. I will put up
the little tin flag that signals the postman. One of the four beasts
hitched to the reaper is a broncho colt who came dancing to the field
this afternoon, refusing to keep his head in line with the rest of the
steeds, and, as a consequence, pulling the whole reaper. It transpires
that the row in the horselot Sunday was caused by this colt. He
jumped up and left his hoof-print on the chest of the man now driving
him. So the two men tied him up and beat him all afternoon with a
double-tree, cursing him between whacks, lashing themselves with
Kansas whisky to keep up steam. Yet he comes dancing to the field.

On the farm two miles north of Great Bend, Wednesday evening, July 10,

I must write you a short note to-night while the rest are getting
ready for supper. I will try to mail it to-morrow morning on the way
to the wheat. Let me assure you that your letter will be heeded. I
know pretty well, by this time, what I can stand, but if I feel the
least bit unfit I will not go into the sun. That is my understanding
with the tenant who runs the farm. I can eat and sweat like a
Mennonite. I sleep like a top and wake up fresh as a little daisy. So
far I have gone dancing to the field as the broncho did. But the
broncho is a poor illustration. He is dead.

The broncho was the property of a little boy, the son of the man who
owns the farm. The little boy had started with a lamb and raised it,
then sold it for chickens, increasing his capital by trading and
feeding till it was all concentrated to buy this colt. Then he and his
people moved to town and left the colt, just at the breaking age, to
be trained for a boy's pet by these men. Since he became obstreperous,
they thought hitching him to the reaper would cure him, leaving a
draught-horse in the barn to make place for the unruly one.

The tenant's brother, who drove the reaper, sent word to the little
boy he had not the least idea what ailed Dick. He hinted to me later
that whatever killed him must have come from some disease in his head.

Yes, it came from his head. That double-tree and that pitchfork handle
probably missed his ribs once or twice and hit him somewhere around
his eyes, in the course of the Sabbath afternoon services. Two
whisky-lashed colt-breakers can do wonders without trying. I have been
assured that this is the only way to subdue the beasts, that law and
order must assert themselves or the whole barnyard will lead an
industrial rebellion. It is past supper now. I have been writing till
the lamp is dim. I must go to my quilts in the hay.

To-day was the only time the reaper did not break down every half hour
for repairs. So it was one continuous dance for me and my friend the
broncho till about three o'clock in the afternoon, when the sun really
did its best. Then the broncho went crazy. He shoved his head over the
backs of two mules twice his size, and almost pushed them into the
teeth of the sickle.

He was bleeding at the mouth and his eyes almost popped out of his
head. He had hardly an inch of hide that was whole, and his raw places
were completely covered with Kansas flies. And the hot winds have
made the flies so ravenous they draw blood from the back of the
harvester's hand the moment they alight.

The broncho began to kick in all four directions at once. He did one
good thing. He pulled the callouses off the hands of the tenant's
brother, the driver, who still gripped the lines but surrendered his
pride and yelled for me to help. I am as afraid of bronchos and mules
as I am of buzz saws. Yet we separated the beasts somehow, the mules
safely hitched to the fence, the broncho between us, held by two

There was no reasoning with Dick. He was dying, and dying game. One of
the small boys appeared just then and carried the alarm. Soon a more
savage and indomitable man with a more eloquent tongue, the tenant
himself, had my end of the rope. But not the most formidable cursing
could stop Dick from bleeding at the mouth. Later the draught horse
whose place he had taken was brought over from his pleasant rest in
the barn and the two were tied head to head. The lordly tenant started
to lead them toward home. But Dick fell down and died as soon as he
reached a patch of unploughed prairie grass, which, I think, was the
proper end for him. The peaceful draught horse was put in his place.

The reaper went back to work. The reaper cut splendidly the rest of
this afternoon. As for me I never shocked wheat with such machine-like
precision. I went at a dog-trot part of the time, and almost caught up
with the machine.

The broncho should not have been called Dick. He should have been
called Daniel Boone, or Davy Crockett or Custer or Richard, yes,
Richard the Lion-Hearted. He came dancing to the field this morning,
between the enormous overshadowing mules, and dancing feebly this
noon. He pulled the whole reaper till three o'clock. I remember I
asked the driver at noon what made the broncho dance. He answered:
"The flies on his ribs, I suppose."

I fancy Dick danced because he was made to die dancing, just as the
Spartans rejoiced and combed their long hair preparing to face certain
death at Thermopylæ.

I think I want on my coat of arms a broncho, rampant.

THURSDAY, JULY 11, 1912. Great Bend, Kansas.

Yesterday I could lift three moderate-sized sheaves on the run. This
morning I could hardly lift one, walking. This noon the foreman of the
ranch, the man who, with his brother, disciplined the broncho, was
furiously angry with me, because, as I plainly explained, I was
getting too much sun and wanted a bit of a rest. He inquired, "Why
didn't you tell me two days ago you were going to be overcome by the
heat, so I could have had a man ready to take your place?" Also, "It's
no wonder dirty homeless men are walking around the country looking
for jobs." Also, a little later: "I have my opinion of any man on
earth who is a quitter."

But I kept my serenity and told him that under certain circumstances I
was apt to be a quitter, though, of course, I did not like to overdo
the quitting business. I remained unruffled, as I say, and handed him
and his brother copies of _The Gospel of Beauty_ and _Rhymes to Be
Traded for Bread_ and bade them good-bye. Then I went to town and told
the local editor on them for their horse-killing, which, I suppose,
was two-faced of me.

The tenant's attitude was perfectly absurd. Hands are terribly scarce.
A half day's delay in shocking that wheat would not have hurt it, or
stopped the reaper, or altered any of the rest of the farm routine. He
fired me without real hope of a substitute. I was working for
rock-bottom wages and willing to have them docked all he pleased if
he would only give me six hours to catch up in my tiredness.

Anyway, here I am in the Saddlerock Hotel, to which I have paid in
advance a bit of my wages, in exchange for one night's rest. I enclose
the rest to you. I will start out on the road to-morrow, bathed,
clean, dead broke and fancy free. I have made an effort to graduate
from beggary into the respectable laboring class, which you have so
often exhorted me to do.

I shall try for employment again, as soon as I rest up a bit. I
enjoyed the wheat and the second-hand reaper, and the quaintness of my
employers and all till the death of Richard the Lion-Hearted.

I am wondering whether I ought to be as bitter as I am against the
horse-killers. We cannot have green fields just for bronchos to gambol
in, or roads where they can trot unharnessed and nibble by the way. We
must have Law and Order and Discipline.

But, thanks to the Good St. Francis who marks out my path for me, I
start to-morrow morning to trot unharnessed once again.

SUNDAY, JULY 14, 1912. In front of the general store at Wright,
Kansas, which same is as small as a town can get.

I have been wondering why Destiny sent me to that farm where the
horse-killers flourished. I suppose it was that Dick might have at
least one mourner. All the world's heroes are heroes because they had
the qualities of constancy and dancing gameness that brought him to
his death.

Some day I shall hunt up the right kind of a Hindu and pay him filthy
gold and have him send the ghost of Dick to those wretched men. They
will be unable to move, lying with eyes a-staring all night long.
Dreadful things will happen in that room, dreadful things the Hindu
shall devise after I have told him what the broncho endured. They
shall wake in the morning, thinking it all a dream till they behold
the horse-shoe prints all over the counterpane. Then they will try to
sit up and find that their ribs are broken--well, I will leave it to
the Hindu.

I have been waiting many hours at this town of Wright. To-day and
yesterday I made seventy-six miles. Thirty-five of these miles I made
yesterday in the automobile of the genial and scholarly Father A. P.
Heimann of Kinsley, who took me as far as that point. I have been
loafing here at Wright since about four in the afternoon. It is nearly
dark now. Dozens of harvesters, already engaged for the week, have
been hanging about and the two stores have kept open to accommodate
them. There is a man to meet me here at eight o'clock. I may harvest
for him four days. I told him I would not promise for longer. He has
taken the train to a station further east to try to get some men for
all week. If he does not return with a full quota he will take me on.
While I am perfectly willing to work for two dollars and a half, many
hold out for three.

The man I am waiting for overtook me two miles east of this place. He
was hurrying to catch his train. He took me into his rig and made the
bargain. He turned his horse over to me and raced for the last car as
we neared the station. So here I am a few yards from the depot, in
front of the general store, watching the horse of an utter stranger.
Of course the horse isn't worth stealing, and his harness is half
twine and wire. But the whole episode is so careless and free and

Most of the crowd have gone, and I am awfully hungry. I might steal
off the harness in the dark, and eat it. Somehow I have not quite the
nerve to beg where I expect to harvest. I am afraid to try again in
this fight with the sun, yet when a man overtakes me in the road and
trusts me with his best steed and urges me to work for him, I hardly
know how to refuse.

SUNDAY AFTERNOON, JULY 21, 1912. Loafing and dozing on my bed in the
granary on the farm near Wright, Kansas, where I have been harvesting
a full week.

The man I waited for last Sunday afternoon returned with his full
quota of hands on the "Plug" train about nine o'clock. Where was I to
sleep? I began to think about a lumber pile I had seen, when I
discovered that five other farmers had climbed off that train. They
were poking around in all the dark corners for men just like me. I
engaged with a German named Louis Lix for the whole week, all the time
shaking with misgivings from the memory of my last break-down. Here it
is, Sunday, before I know it. Lix wants me back again next year, and
is sorry I will not work longer. I have totalled about sixteen days of
harvesting in Kansas, and though I sagged in the middle I think I have
ended in fair style. Enclosed find all my wages except enough for one
day's stay at Dodge City and three real hotel meals there--sherbet
and cheese and crackers, and finger bowls at the end, and all such
folly. Harvest eating is grand in its way but somehow lacks frills.
Ah, if eating were as much in my letters as in my thoughts, this would
be nothing but a series of menus!

I have helped Lix harvest barley, oats and wheat, mainly wheat. This
is the world of wheat. In this genial region one can stand on a
soap-box and see nothing else to the horizon. Walking the Santa Fé
Trail beside the railroad means walking till the enormous
wheat-elevator behind one disappears because of the curvature of the
earth, like the ships in the geography picture, and walking on and on
till finally in the west the top of another elevator appears, being
gradually revealed because this earth is not flat like a table, but,
as the geography says, curved like an apple or an orange.

In these fields, instead of working a reaper with a sickle eight feet
long, they work a header with a twelve-foot sickle. Instead of four
horses to this machine, there are six. Instead of one man or two
following behind to the left of the driver to pile sheaves into
shocks, a barge, a most copious slatted receptacle, drives right
beside the header, catching the unbound wheat which is thrown up
loosely by the machine. One pitchfork man in the barge spreads this
cataract of headed wheat so a full load can be taken in. His partner
guides the team, keeping precisely with the header.

But these two bargemen do not complete the outfit. Two others with
their barge or "header-box" come up behind as soon as the first box
starts over to the stack to be unloaded. Here the sixth man, the
stacker, receives it, and piles it into a small mountain nicely
calculated to resist cyclones. The green men are broken in as
bargemen. The stacker is generally an old hand.

Unloading the wheat is the hardest part of the bargeman's work. His
fork must be full and he must be fast. Otherwise his partner, who
takes turns driving and filling, and who helps to pitch the wheat out,
will have more than half the pitching to do. And all the time will be
used up. Neither man will have a rest-period while waiting for the
other barge to come up. This rest-period is the thing toward which we
all wrestle. If we save it out we drink from the water-jugs in the
corner of the wagon. We examine where the grasshoppers have actually
bitten little nicks out of our pitchfork handles, nicks that are apt
to make blisters. We tell our adventures and, when the header breaks
down, and must be tinkered endlessly, and we have a grand rest, the
stacker sings a list of the most amazing cowboy songs. He is a young
man, yet rode the range here for seven years before it became
wheat-country. One day when the songs had become hopelessly,
prosaically pornographic I yearned for a change. I quoted the first
stanza of Atalanta's chorus:

    "When the hounds of Spring are on Winter's traces,
    The mother of months, in meadow or plain,
    Fills the shadows and windy places
    With lisp of leaves and ripple of rain----"

The stacker asked for more. I finished the chorus. Then I repeated it
several times, while the header was being mended. We had to get to
work. The next morning when my friend climbed into our barge to ride
to the field he began:

    "'When the hounds of Spring are on Winter's traces,
    The mother of months, in meadow or plain,
    Fills the shadows----'

"Dammit, what's the rest of it? I've been trying to recite that piece
all night."

Now he has the first four stanzas. And last evening he left for Dodge
City to stay overnight and Sunday. He was resolved to purchase
_Atalanta in Calydon_ and find in the Public Library _The Lady of
Shallot_ and _The Blessed Damozel_, besides paying the usual visit to
his wife and children.

Working in a header-barge is fun, more fun than shocking wheat, even
when one is working for a Mennonite boss. The crew is larger. There is
occasional leisure to be social. There is more cool wind, for one is
higher in the air. There is variety in the work. One drives about a
third of the time, guides the wheat into the header a third of the
time and empties the barge a third of the time. The emptying was the
back-breaking work.

And I was all the while fearful, lest, from plain awkwardness, or
shaking from weariness, I should stick some man in the eye with my
pitchfork. But I did not. I came nearer to being a real harvester
every day. The last two days my hands were so hard I could work
without gloves, this despite the way the grasshoppers had chewed the

Believe everything you have ever heard of the Kansas grasshoppers.

The heights of the header-barge are dramatically commanding. Kansas
appears much larger than when we are merely standing in the field. We
are just as high as upon a mountain-peak, for here, as there, we can
see to the very edges of the eternities.

Now let me tell you of a new kind of weather.

Clouds thicken overhead. The wind turns suddenly cold. We shiver while
we work. We are liable in five minutes to a hailstorm, a terrific
cloudburst or a cyclone. The horses are unhitched. The barges are tied
end to end. And _still_ the barges may be blown away. They must be
anchored even more safely. The long poles to lock the wheels are
thrust under the bed through the spokes. It has actually been my duty
to put this pole in the wheels every evening to keep the barges from
being blown out of the barn-lot at night. Such is the accustomed
weather excitement in Kansas. Just now we have excitement that is
unusual. But as the storm is upon us it splits and passes to the north
and south. There is not a drop of rain.

We are at work again in ten minutes. In two hours the sky is clear and
the air is hot and alkaline. And ten thousand grasshoppers are glad to
see that good old hot wind again, you may believe. They are preening
themselves, each man in his place on the slats of the barge. They are
enjoying their chewing tobacco the same as ever.

Wheat, wheat, wheat, wheat! States and continents and oceans and
solar-systems of wheat! We poor ne'er-do-weels take our little part up
there in the header half way between the sky and the earth, and in the
evening going home, carrying Mister Stacker-Man in our barge, we sing
_Sweet Rosy O'Grady_ and the _Battle Hymn of the Republic_. And the
most emphatic and unadulterated tramp among us harvesters, a giant
Swiss fifty years old, gives the yodel he learned when a boy.

This is a German Catholic family for which I have been working. We
have had grace before and after every meal, and we crossed ourselves
before and after every meal, except the Swiss, who left the table
early to escape being blest too much.

My employers are good folk, good as the Mennonites. My boss was
absolutely on the square all the week, as kind as a hard-working man
has time to be. It gave me great satisfaction to go to Mass with him
this morning. Though some folks talk against religion, though it
sometimes appears to be a nuisance, after weighing all the evidence of
late presented, I prefer a religious farmer.


    _Here's to the spirit of fire, wherever the flame is unfurled,
    In the sun, it may be, as a torch, to lead on and enlighten the world;
    That melted the glacial streams, in the day that no memories reach,
    That shimmered in amber and shell and weed on the earliest beach;
    The genius of love and of life, the power that will ever abound,
    That waits in the bones of the dead, who sleep till the judgment shall
    Here's to the spirit of fire, when clothed in swift music it comes,
    The glow of the harvesting songs, the voice of the national drums;
    The whimsical, various fire, in the rhymes and ideas of men,
    Buried in books for an age, exploding and writhing again,
    And blown a red wind round the world, consuming the lies in its mirth,
    Then locked in dark volumes for long, and buried like coal in the
    Here's to the comforting fire in the joys of the blind and the meek,
    In the customs of letterless lands, in the thoughts of the stupid and
    In the weariest legends they tell, in their cruellest, coldest belief,
    In the proverbs of counter or till, in the arts of the priest or the
    Here's to the spirit of fire, that never the ocean can drown,
    That glows in the phosphorent wave, and gleams in the sea-rose's crown;
    That sleeps in the sunbeam and mist, that creeps as the wise can but
    A wonder, an incense, a whim, a perfume, a fear and a glow,
    Ensnaring the stars with a spell, and holding the earth in a net,
    Yea, filling the nations with prayer, wherever man's pathway is set._


_The End of the Road; Moonshine; and Some Proclamations_

AUGUST 1, 1912. Standing up at the Postoffice desk, Pueblo, Colorado.

Several times since going over the Colorado border I have had such a
cordial reception for the Gospel of Beauty that my faith in this
method of propaganda is reawakened. I confess to feeling a new zeal.
But there are other things I want to tell in this letter.

I have begged my way from Dodge City on, dead broke, and keeping all
the rules of the road. I have been asked dozens of times by frantic
farmers to help them at various tasks in western Kansas and eastern
Colorado. I have regretfully refused all but half-day jobs, having
firmly resolved not to harvest again till I have well started upon a
certain spiritual enterprise, namely, the writing of certain new poems
that have taken possession of me in this high altitude, despite the
physical stupidity that comes with strenuous walking. Thereby hangs a
tale that I have not room for here.

Resolutely setting aside all recent wonders, I have still a few
impressions of the wheatfield to record. Harvesting time in Kansas is
such a distinctive institution! Whole villages that are dead any other
season blossom with new rooming signs, fifty cents a room, or when two
beds are in a room, twenty-five cents a bed. The eating counters are
generally separate from these. The meals are almost uniformly
twenty-five cents each. The fact that Kansas has no bar-rooms makes
these shabby food-sodden places into near-taverns, the main assembly
halls for men wanting to be hired, or those spending their coin.
Famous villages where an enormous amount of money changes hands in
wages and the sale of wheat-crops are thus nothing but marvellous
lines of dirty restaurants. In front of the dingy hotels are endless
ancient chairs. Summer after summer fidgety, sun-fevered, sticky
harvesters have gossiped from chair to chair or walked toward the
dirty band-stand in the public square, sure, as of old, to be
encountered by the anxious farmer, making up his crew.

A few harvesters are seen, carrying their own bedding; grasshopper
bitten quilts with all their colors flaunting and their cotton gushing
out, held together by a shawl-strap or a rope. Almost every harvester
has a shabby suit-case of the paste-board variety banging round his
ankles. When wages are rising the harvester, as I have said before,
holds out for the top price. The poor farmer walks round and round the
village half a day before he consents to the three dollars. Stacker's
wages may be three to five simoleons and the obdurate farmer may have
to consent to the five lest his wheat go to seed on the ground. It is
a hard situation for a class that is constitutionally tightwad, often
wisely so.

The roundhouses, water tanks, and all other places where men stealing
freight rides are apt to pass, have enticing cards tacked on or near
them by the agents of the mayors of the various towns, giving average
wages, number of men wanted, and urging all harvesters good and true
to come to some particular town between certain dates. The multitude
of these little cards keeps the harvester on the alert, and, as the
saying is: "Independent as a hog on ice."

To add to the farmer's distractions, still fresher news comes by word
of mouth that three hundred men are wanted in a region two counties to
the west, at fifty cents more a day. It sweeps through the harvesters'
hotels, and there is a great banging of suit-cases, and the whole town
is rushing for the train. Then there is indeed a nabbing of men at
the station, and sudden surrender on the part of the farmers, before
it is too late.

Harvesting season is inevitably placarded and dated too soon in one
part of the State, and not soon enough in another. Kansas weather does
not produce its results on schedule. This makes not one, but many
hurry-calls. It makes the real epic of the muscle-market.

Stand with me at the station. Behold the trains rushing by, hour after
hour, freight-cars and palace cars of dishevelled men! The more
elegant the equipage the more do they put their feet on the seats.
Behold a saturnalia of chewing tobacco and sunburn and hairy chests,
disturbing the primness and crispness of the Santa Fé, jostling the
tourist and his lovely daughter.

They are a happy-go-lucky set. They have the reverse of the tightwad's
vices. The harvester, alas, is harvested. Gamblers lie in wait for
him. The scarlet woman has her pit digged and ready. It is fun for
the police to lock him up and fine him. No doubt he often deserves it.
I sat half an afternoon in one of these towns and heard the local
undertaker tell horrible stories of friendless field hands with no
kinsfolk anywhere discoverable, sunstruck and buried in a day or so by
the county. One man's story he told in great detail. The fellow had
complained of a headache, and left the field. He fell dead by the
roadside on the way to the house. He was face downward in an ant hill.
He was eaten into an unrecognizable mass before they found him at
sunset. The undertaker expatiated on how hard it was to embalm such
folks. It was a discourse marshalled with all the wealth of detail one
reads in _The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar_.

The harvester is indeed harvested. He gambles with sunstroke, disease
and damnation. In one way or another the money trickles from his loose
fingers, and he drifts from the wheat in Oklahoma north to the wheat
in Nebraska. He goes to Canada to shock wheat there as the season
recedes, and then, perhaps, turns on his tracks and makes for Duluth,
Minnesota, we will say. He takes up lumbering. Or he may make a
circuit of the late fruit crops of Colorado and California. He is,
pretty largely, so much crude, loose, ungoverned human strength, more
useful than wise. Looked at closely, he may be the boy from the
machine-shop, impatient for ready money, the farmer failure turned
farm-hand, the bank-clerk or machine-shop mechanic tired of slow pay,
or the college student on a lark, in more or less incognito. He may be
the intermittent criminal, the gay-cat or the travelling religious
crank, or the futile tract-distributer.

And I was three times fraternally accosted by harvesters who thought
my oil-cloth package of poems was a kit of burglar's tools. It _is_ a
system of breaking in, I will admit.


This ends the section of my letters home that in themselves make a
consecutive story. But to finish with a bit of a nosegay, and show one
of the unexpected rewards of troubadouring, let me tell the tale of
the Five Little Children Eating Mush.

One should not be so vain as to recount a personal triumph. Still this
is a personal triumph. And I shall tell it with all pride and vanity.
Let those who dislike a conceited man drop the book right here.

I had walked all day straight west from Rocky Ford. It was pitch dark,
threatening rain--the rain that never comes. It was nearly ten
o'clock. At six I had entered a village, but had later resolved to
press on to visit a man to whom I had a letter of introduction from
my loyal friend Dr. Barbour of Rocky Ford.

There had been a wash-out. I had to walk around it, and was
misdirected by the good villagers and was walking merrily on toward
nowhere. Around nine o'clock I had been refused lodging at three
different shanties. But from long experience I knew that something
would turn up in a minute. And it did.

I walked right into the fat sides of a big country hotel on that
interminable plain. It was not surrounded by a village. It was simply
a clean hostelrie for the transient hands who worked at irrigating in
that region.

I asked the looming figure I met in the dark: "Where is the boss of
this place?"

"I am the boss." He had a Scandinavian twist to his tongue.

"I want a night's lodging. I will give in exchange an entertainment
this evening, or half a day's work to-morrow."

"Come in."

I followed him up the outside stairway to the dining-room in the
second story. There was his wife, a woman who greeted me cheerfully in
the Scandinavian accent. She was laughing at her five little children
who were laughing at her and eating their mush and milk.

Presumably the boarders had been delayed by their work, and had dined
late. The children were at it still later.

They were real Americans, those little birds. And they had memories
like parrots, as will appear.

"Wife," said the landlord, "here is a man that will entertain us
to-night for his keep, or work for us to-morrow. I think we will take
the entertainment to-night. Go ahead, mister. Here are the kids. Now
listen, kids."

To come out of the fathomless, friendless dark and, almost in an
instant, to look into such expectant fairy faces! They were laughing,
laughing, laughing, not in mockery, but companionship. I recited every
child-piece I had ever written--(not many).

They kept quite still till the end of each one. Then they pounded the
table for more, with their tin spoons and their little red fists.

So, with misgivings, I began to recite some of my fairy-tales for
grown-ups. I spoke slowly, to make the externals of each story plain.
The audience squealed for more.... I decided to recite six jingles
about the moon, that I had written long ago: How the Hyæna said the
Moon was a Golden Skull, and how the Shepherd Dog contradicted him and
said it was a Candle in the Sky--and all that and all that.

The success of the move was remarkable because I had never pleased
either grown folks or children to any extent with those verses. But
these children, through the accumulated excitements of a day that I
knew nothing about, were in an ecstatic imaginative condition of soul
that transmuted everything.

The last of the series recounted what Grandpa Mouse said to the Little
Mice on the Moon question. I arranged the ketchup bottle on the edge
of the table for Grandpa Mouse. I used the salts and peppers for the
little mice in circle round. I used a black hat or so for the
swooping, mouse-eating owls that came down from the moon. Having acted
out the story first, I recited it, slowly, mind you. Here it is:


    "The moon's a holy owl-queen:
    She keeps them in a jar
    Under her arm till evening,
    Then sallies forth to war.

    She pours the owls upon us:
    They hoot with horrid noise
    And eat the naughty mousie-girls
    And wicked mousie-boys.

    So climb the moon-vine every night
    And to the owl-queen pray:
    Leave good green cheese by moonlit trees
    For her to take away.

    And never squeak, my children,
    Nor gnaw the smoke-house door.
    The owl-queen then will then love us
    And send her birds no more."

At the end I asked for my room and retired. I slept maybe an hour. I
was awakened by those tireless little rascals racing along the dark
hall and saying in horrible solemn tones, pretending to scare one

    "The moon's a holy owl-queen:
    She keeps them in a jar
    Under her arm till night,
    Then 'allies out to war!
    She sicks the owls upon us,
    They 'OOT with 'orrid noise
    And eat ... the naughty boys,

And so it went on, over and over.

Thereupon I made a mighty and a rash resolve. I renewed that same
resolve in the morning when I woke. I said within myself "_I shall
write one hundred Poems on the Moon!_"

Of course I did not keep my resolve to write one hundred pieces about
the moon. But here are a few of those I did write immediately after:


[To the tune of Gaily the Troubadour.]

    Faintly the ne'er-do-well
    Breathed through his flute:
    All the tired neighbor-folk,
    Hearing, were mute.
    In their neat doorways sat,
    Labors all done,
    Helpless, relaxed, o'er-wrought,
    Evening begun.

    None of them there beguiled
    Work-thoughts away,
    Like to this reckless, wild
    Loafer by day.
    (Weeds in his flowers upgrown!
    Fences awry!
    Rubbish and bottles heaped!
    Yard like a sty!)

    There in his lonely door,
    Leering and lean,
    Staggering, liquor-stained,
    Outlawed, obscene----
    Played he his moonlight thought,
    Mastered his flute.
    All the tired neighbor-folk,
    Hearing, were mute.
    None but he, in that block,
    Knew such a tune.
    All loved the strain, and all
    _Looked at the moon!_


    The full moon is the Shield of Faith,
      And when it hangs on high
    Another shield seems on my arm
      The hard world to defy.

    Yea, when the moon has knighted me,
      Then every poisoned dart
    Of daytime memory turns away
      From my dream-armored heart.

    The full moon is the Shield of Faith:
      As long as it shall rise,
    I know that Mystery comes again,
      That Wonder never dies.

    I know that Shadow has its place,
      That Noon is not our goal,
    That Heaven has non-official hours
      To soothe and mend the soul;

    That witchcraft can be angel-craft
      And wizard deeds sublime;
    That utmost darkness bears a flower,
      Though long the budding-time.


[What the Gardener's Daughter Said]

    The moon is now an opening flower,
      The sky a cliff of blue.
    The moon is now a silver rose;
      Her pollen is the dew.

    Her pollen is the mist that swings
      Across her face of dreams:
    Her pollen is the faint cold light
      That through the garden streams.

    All earth is but a passion-flower
      With blood upon his crown.
    And what shall fill his failing veins
      And lift his head, bowed down?

    This cup of peace, this silver rose
      Bending with fairy breath
    Shall lift that passion-flower, the earth,
      A million times from Death!


    I sailed a little shallop
    Upon a pretty sea
    In blue and hazy mountains,
    Scarce mountains unto me;
    Their summits lost in wonder,
    They wrapped the lake around,
    And when my shallop landed
    I trod on a vague ground,

    And climbed and climbed toward heaven,
    Though scarce before my feet
    I found one step unveiled there
    The blue-haze vast, complete,
    Until I came to Zion
    The gravel paths of God:
    My endless trail pierced the thick veil
    To flaming flowers and sod.
    I rested, looked behind me
    And saw where I had been.
    _My little lake. It was the moon._
    Sky-mountains closed it in.

       *       *       *       *       *


_Immediately upon my return from my journey the following
Proclamations were printed in Farm and Fireside, through the great
kindness of the editors, as another phase of the same crusade._


     Go to the fields, O city laborers, till your wounds are
     healed. Forget the street-cars, the skyscrapers, the slums,
     the Marseillaise song.

     We proclaim to the broken-hearted, still able to labor, the
     glories of the ploughed land. The harvests are wonderful. And
     there is a spiritual harvest appearing. A great agricultural
     flowering of art and song is destined soon to appear. Where
     corn and wheat are growing, men are singing the psalms of
     David, not the Marseillaise.

     You to whom the universe has become a blast-furnace, a
     coke-oven, a cinder-strewn freight-yard, to whom the history
     of all ages is a tragedy with the climax now, to whom our
     democracy and our flag are but playthings of the
     hypocrite,--turn to the soil, turn to the earth, your mother,
     and she will comfort you. Rest, be it ever so little, from
     your black broodings. Think with the farmer once more, as
     your fathers did. Revere with the farmer our centuries-old
     civilization, however little it meets the city's trouble.
     Revere the rural customs that have their roots in the
     immemorial benefits of nature.

     With the farmer look again upon the Constitution as something
     brought by Providence, prepared for by the ages. Go to
     church, the cross-roads church, and say the Lord's Prayer
     again. Help them with their temperance crusade. It is a
     deeper matter than you think. Listen to the laughter of the
     farmer's children. Know that not all the earth is a-weeping.
     Know that so long as there is black soil deep on the prairie,
     so long as grass will grow on it, we have a vast green haven.

     The roots of some of our trees are still in the earth. Our
     mountains need not to be moved from their places. Wherever
     there is tillable land, there is a budding and blooming of
     old-fashioned Americanism, which the farmer is making
     splendid for us against the better day.

     There is perpetual balm in Gilead, and many city workmen
     shall turn to it and be healed. This by faith, and a study of
     the signs, we proclaim!


     _Of the New Time for Farmers and the New New England_

     Let it be proclaimed and shouted over all the ploughlands of
     the United States that the same ripening that brought our
     first culture in New England one hundred years ago is taking
     place in America to-day. Every State is to have its Emerson,
     its Whittier, its Longfellow, its Hawthorne and the rest.

     Our Puritan farmer fathers in our worthiest handful of States
     waited long for their first group of burnished, burning
     lamps. From the landing of the Pilgrims in 1620 to the
     delivery of Emerson's address on the American Scholar was a
     weary period of gestation well rewarded.

     Therefore, let us be thankful that we have come so soon to
     the edge of this occasion, that the western farms, though
     scarcely settled, have the Chautauqua, which is New
     England's old rural lecture course; the temperance crusade,
     which is New England's abolitionism come again; the magazine
     militant, which is the old Atlantic Monthly combined with the
     Free-Soil Newspaper under a new dress; and educational
     reform, which is the Yankee school-house made glorious.

     All these, and more, electrify the farm-lands. Things are in
     that ferment where many-sided Life and Thought are born.

     Because our West and South are richer and broader and deeper
     than New England, so much more worth while will our work be.
     We will come nearer to repeating the spirit of the best
     splendors of the old Italian villages than to multiplying the
     prunes and prisms of Boston.

     The mystery-seeking, beauty-serving followers of Poe in their
     very revolt from democracy will serve it well. The
     Pan-worshipping disciples of Whitman will in the end be,
     perhaps, more useful brothers of the White Christ than all
     our coming saints. And men will not be infatuated by the
     written and spoken word only, as in New England. Every art
     shall have the finest devotion.

     Already in this more tropical California, this airier
     Colorado, this black-soiled Illinois, in Georgia, with her
     fire-hearted tradition of chivalry and her new and most
     romantic prosperity, men have learned to pray to the God of
     the blossoming world, men have learned to pray to the God of
     Beauty. They meditate upon His ways. They have begun to sing.

     As of old, their thoughts and songs begin with the land, and
     go directly back to the land. Their tap-roots are deep as
     those of the alfalfa. A new New England is coming, a New
     England of ninety million souls! An artistic Renaissance is
     coming. An America is coming such as was long ago prophesied
     in Emerson's address on the American Scholar. This by faith,
     and a study of the signs, we proclaim!


     _Of the New Village, and the New Country Community, as
     Distinct from the Village_

     This is a year of bumper crops, of harvesting festivals.
     Through the mists of the happy waning year, a new village
     rises, and the new country community, in visions revealed to
     the rejoicing heart of faith.

     And yet it needs no vision to see them. Walking across this
     land I have found them, little ganglions of life, promise of
     thousands more. The next generation will be that of the
     eminent village. The son of the farmer will be no longer
     dazzled and destroyed by the fires of the metropolis. He will
     travel, but only for what he can bring back. Just as his
     father sends half-way across the continent for good corn, or
     melon-seed, so he will make his village famous by
     transplanting and growing this idea or that. He will make it
     known for its pottery or its processions, its philosophy or
     its peacocks, its music or its swans, its golden roofs or its
     great union cathedral of all faiths. There are a thousand
     miscellaneous achievements within the scope of the
     great-hearted village. Our agricultural land to-day holds the
     ploughboys who will bring these benefits. I have talked to
     these boys. I know them. I have seen their gleaming eyes.

     And the lonely country neighborhood, as distinct from the
     village, shall make itself famous. There are river valleys
     that will be known all over the land for their tall men and
     their milk-white maidens, as now for their well-bred horses.
     There are mountain lands that shall cultivate the tree of
     knowledge, as well as the apple-tree. There are sandy tracts
     that shall constantly ripen red and golden citrus fruit, but
     as well, philosophers comforting as the moon, and
     strength-giving as the sun.

     These communities shall have their proud circles. They shall
     have families joined hand in hand, to the end that new blood
     and new thoughts be constantly brought in, and no good force
     or leaven be lost. The country community shall awaken
     illustrious. This by faith, and a study of the signs, we


     _Welcoming the Talented Children of the Soil_

     Because of their closeness to the earth, the men on the farms
     increase in stature and strength.

     And for this very reason a certain proportion of their
     children are being born with a finer strength. They are being
     born with all this power concentrated in their nerves. They
     have the magnificent thoughts that might stir the stars in
     their courses, were they given voice.

     Yea, in almost every ranch-house is born one flower-like girl
     or boy, a stranger among the brothers and sisters. Welcome,
     and a thousand welcomes, to these fairy changelings! They
     will make our land lovely. Let all of us who love God give
     our hearts to these His servants. They are born with eyes
     that weep themselves blind, unless there is beauty to look
     upon. They are endowed with souls that are self-devouring,
     unless they be permitted to make rare music; with a desire
     for truth that will make them mad as the old prophets, unless
     they be permitted to preach and pray and praise God in their
     own fashion, each establishing his own dream visibly in the

     The land is being jewelled with talented children, from Maine
     to California: souls dewy as the grass, eyes wondering and
     passionate, lips that tremble. Though they be born in
     hovels, they have slender hands, seemingly lost amid the
     heavy hands. They have hands that give way too soon amid the
     bitter days of labor, but are everlastingly patient with the
     violin, or chisel, or brush, or pen.

     All these children as a sacred charge are appearing, coming
     down upon the earth like manna. Yet many will be neglected as
     the too-abundant mulberry, that is left upon the trees. Many
     will perish like the wild strawberries of Kansas, cut down by
     the roadside with the weeds. Many will be looked upon like an
     over-abundant crop of apples, too cheap to be hauled to
     market, often used as food for the beasts. There will be a
     great slaughter of the innocents, more bloody than that of
     Herod of old. But there will be a desperate hardy remnant,
     adepts in all the conquering necromancy of agricultural Song
     and democratic Craftsmanship. They will bring us our new time
     in its completeness.

     This by faith, and a study of the signs, we proclaim!


     _Of the Coming of Religion, Equality and Beauty_

     In our new day, so soon upon us, for the first time in the
     history of Democracy, art and the church shall be hand in
     hand and equally at our service. Neither craftsmanship nor
     prayer shall be purely aristocratic any more, nor at war with
     each other, nor at war with the State. The priest, the
     statesman and the singer shall discern one another's work
     more perfectly and give thanks to God.

     Even now our best churches are blossoming in beauty. Our best
     political life, whatever the howlers may say, is tending
     toward equality, beauty and holiness.

     Political speech will cease to turn only upon the price of
     grain, but begin considering the price of cross-roads
     fountains and people's palaces. Our religious life will no
     longer trouble itself with the squabbles of orthodoxy. It
     will give us the outdoor choral procession, the ceremony of
     dedicating the wheat-field or the new-built private house to
     God. That politician who would benefit the people will not
     consider all the world wrapped up in the defence or
     destruction of a tariff schedule. He will serve the public as
     did Pericles, with the world's greatest dramas. He will
     rebuild the local Acropolis. He will make his particular
     Athens rule by wisdom and philosophy, not trade alone. Our
     crowds shall be audiences, not hurrying mobs; dancers, not
     brawlers; observers, not restless curiosity-seekers. Our mobs
     shall becomes assemblies and our assemblies religious; devout
     in a subtle sense, equal in privilege and courtesy, delicate
     of spirit, a perfectly rounded democracy.

     All this shall come through the services of three kinds of
     men in wise coöperation: the priests, the statesmen and the
     artists. Our priests shall be religious men like St. Francis,
     or John Wesley, or General Booth, or Cardinal Newman. They
     shall be many types, but supreme of their type.

     Our statesmen shall find their exemplars and their
     inspiration in Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln, as all good
     Americans devoutly desire.

     But even these cannot ripen the land without the work of men
     as versatile as William Morris or Leonardo. Our artists shall
     fuse the work of these other workers, and give expression to
     the whole cry and the whole weeping and rejoicing of the
     land. We shall have Shelleys with a heart for religion,
     Ruskins with a comprehension of equality.

     _Religion_, _equality_ and _beauty_! By these America shall
     come into a glory that shall justify the yearning of the
     sages for her perfection, and the prophecies of the poets,
     when she was born in the throes of Valley Forge.

     _This, by faith, and a study of the signs, we proclaim!_

       *       *       *       *       *


[_Written to all young lovers about to set up homes of their own--but
especially to those of some far-distant day, and those of my

    _Lovers, O lovers, listen to my call.
      Give me kind thoughts. I woo you on my knees.
    Lovers, pale lovers, when the wheat grows tall,
      When willow trees are Eden's incense trees:--_

    _I would be welcome as the rose in flower
      Or busy bird in your most secret fane.
    I would be read in your transcendent hour
      When book and rhyme seem for the most part vain._

    _I would be read, the while you kiss and pray.
      I would be read, ere the betrothal ring
    Circles the slender finger and you say
      Words out of Heaven, while your pulses sing._

    _O lovers, be my partisans and build
      Each home with a great fire-place as is meet.
    When there you stand, with royal wonder filled,
      In bridal peace, and comradeship complete,_

    _While each dear heart beats like a fairy drum--
      Then burn a new-ripe wheat-sheaf in my name.
    Out of the fire my spirit-bread shall come
      And my soul's gospel swirl from that red flame._

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Notes:

Obvious typographical errors were repaired.

Hyphenation variants were changed to most frequently used. Where
equal, variants were retained.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty" ***

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