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Eugene Fitch Ware photo

Eugene Fitch Ware


































Eugene Fitch Ware whose pennames were "Ironquill" and "the Philospher from Paint Creek," came to Kansas after serving in the Union Army and editing an Iowa Newspaper. He settled at Ft. Scott, studied law and later became a specialist in the fields of water rights and insurance law. Although Ware wrote several books on a wide number of subjects -- military history, water rights law, even a Latin translation -- his literary reputation rests upon his collection of poetry, Rhymes of Ironquill, which was revised and went through many editions. Ware first gained attention with "The Washerwoman's Song," which aroused a public furor because of its supposed atheism. Ware's Kansas poems earned him the unoffical title of the state's poet laureate, and he was favorably compared to James Whitcomb Riley, the well-known Indiana poet of the same period. "John Brown" and "Quiver-Kansas" are probably Ware's best-known Kansas poems, but The Kansas Bandit , or The Fall of theIngalls (1891), a privately published verse play that lampoons the Populists, may be his most entertaining work. Ware was undoubtedly the most widely read Kansas poet of the last century, and his influence on the state's poetry was considerable. Modern readers often find Ware's poetry out-dated and difficult to approach; Kenneth Irby, for example, describes it as "flapdoodle jingo verse." An excellent study of Ware as poet, thinker, lawyer, politician, and man is James C. Malin's Ironquill Paint Creek Essays (1972).

---Biography taken from The Kansas Experience In Poetry edited by Lorrin Leland

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Bibliography ( - housed in Thomas Fox Averill Kansas Studies Collection)  


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Writing Samples  

In that half-forgotten era,
With the avarice of old,
Seeking cities he was told
Had been paved with yellow gold,
In the kindom of Quivera ---

Came the restless Coronado
To the open Kansas plain,
With his knights from sunny Spain;
In an effort that, though vain,
Thrilled with boldness and bravado.

League by league, in aimless marching,
Knowing scarcely where or why,
Crossed they uplands drear and dry,
That an unprotected sky
Had for centuries been parching.

But their expectations eager,
Found, instead of fruitful lands,
Shallow streams and shifting sands,
Where buffalo in bands
Roamed o'er deserts dry and meager.

Back to scenes more trite, yet tragic,
Marched the knights with armor'd steeds;
Not for them the quiet deeds;
Not for them to sow the seeds
From which empires grow like magic.

Never land so hunger-stricken
Could a Latin race re-mold;
They could conquer heat or cold --
Die for glory or for gold --
But not make a desert quicken.

Thuys Quivers was forsaken;
Ane the world forgot the place
Through the lapse of time and space.
Then the blue-eyed Saxon race
Came and bade the desert waken.

And it bade the climate vary;
And awaiting no reply
From the elements on high,
It with plows beseiged the sky --
Vexed the heavens with the prairie.

Then the vitreous sky relented,
And the unacquainted rain
Fell upon the thirsty plain,
Where had gone the knights of Spain,
Disappointed, discontented.

Sturdy are the Saxon faces,
As they move along in line;
Bright the rolling-cutters shine,
Charging up the State's incline,
As an army storms a glacis.

Into loam the sand is melted,
And the blue grass takes the loam,
Round about the prairie home;
And the locomotives roam
Over landscapes iron-belted.

Cities grow where stunted birches
Hugged the shallow water-line;
And the deepening rivers twine
Past the factory and mine,
Orchard slopes and schools and churches.

Deeper grows the soil and truer,
More and more the prairie teems
With a fruitage as of dreams;
Clearer, deeper, flow the streams,
Blander grows the sky and bluer.

We have made the State of Kansas,
And to-day she stands complete --
First in freedom, first in wheat;
And her future years will meet
Ripened hopes and richer stanzas.
---Selections from Ironquill (taken from The Kansas Experience in Poetry edited by Lorrin Leland)

John Brown
States are not great
Except as men make them;
Men are not great except they do and dare.
But States, like men,
Have destinies that take them --
That bear them on, not knowing why or where.

The WHY repels
The philosophic searcher --
The WHY and WHERE all questionings defy,
Until we find,
Far back in youthful nurture,
Prophetic facts taht constitute the WHY.

All merit comes
From braving the unequal;
All glory comes from daring to begin.
Fame loves the State
That, reckless of the sequel,
Fights long and well, whether it lose or win.

Than in our State
No illustration apter
Is seen or found of faith and hope and will.
Take up her story:
Every leaf and chapter
Containes a record that conveys a thirll.

And there is one
Whose faith, whose fight, whose failing,
Fame shall placard upon the walls of time.
He dared begin --
Despite the unavailing,
He dared begin, when failure was a crime.

When over Africa
Some future cycle
Shall sweep the lake-gemmed uplands with its surge;
When, as with trumpet
Of Archangel Michael,
Culture shall bid a colored race emerge;

When busy cities
There, in constellations,
Shall gleam with spires and palaces and domes,
With marts wherein
Is heard the noise of nations;
With summer groves surrounding stately homes --

There, future orators
To cultured freemen
Shall tell of valor, and recount with praise
Stories of Kansas,
And of Lacedaemon --
Cradles of freedom, then of ancient days.

From boulevards
O'erlooking both Nyanzas,
The statured bronze shall glitter in the sun,
With rugged lettering:

---Selections from Ironquill (1899) (taken from The Kansas Experience in Poetry edited by Lorrin Leland)

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Kansas Historical Society
Eugene Fitch Ware Papers
Lawyers and Poetry
Camden Point

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