Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Prairie Town

Lovers of beauty laugh at this grey town,
     Where dust lies thick on ragged curb-side trees,
And compass-needle streets lead up and down
     And lose themselves in empty prairie seas.

Here is no winding scented lane, no hill
     Crowned with a steepled church, no garden wall
Of old grey stone where lilacs bloom, and fill
     The air with fragrance when the May rains fall.

But here is the unsoftened majesty
     Of the wide earth where all the wide streets end,
And from the dusty corner one may see
     The full moon rise, and flaming sun descend.

The long main street, whence farmers’ teams go forth,
Lies like an old sea road, star-pointed north.


This poem is in the public domain.

About this Poem

“The Prairie Town” by Helen Santmyer was published in The Bookman Anthology of Verse in December 1921.


Helen Santmyer

Helen Santmyer was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1895. She attended and later taught at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Her poetry appeared in anthologies and journals, however her most famous work, And Ladies of the Club (Ohio State University Press, 1982), was published just a few years before her death in 1986. 

Date Published: 1921-01-01

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