Robert Kirkland Kernighan
Biography of Robert Kirkland Kernighan
Robert Kirkland Kernighan (25 April 1854 – 3 November 1926) was a Canadian poet, journalist, and farmer.
Born at Rushdale Farm, Rockton, Ontario, he apprenticed as a journalist on the Hamilton Spectator staff. In about 1876 the paper printed his first poetry. Kernighan lived in Western Canada for a while working for the Winnipeg Sun. Short thereafter returned to Hamilton to farm. He worked exclusively for many years for the Toronto Telegram writing a column titled, "The Khan's Corner." The nickname "Khan" was given to him by a young French-Canadian woman who could not pronounce his name.
It was the opinion of Sir John A. Macdonald that if Canada ever went to war the soldiers would march to battle singing Kernighan's poem "The Men of the Northern Zone".
In an article reviewing personalities from Hamilton history, Kernighan was praised as a "...poet and humourist with a rare gift of sympathetic portrayal of rural Canadian life."
The Khan appeared in Toronto at old Albert Hall on October 20th, 1885 to a packed house. Toronto's Daily Amusement Record reported: "Albert Hall was jammed to the door, and many had to stand. This, more than anything else, is a substantial compliment to Mr. Kernighan, as the people of Toronto are not in the habit of throwing away fifty-cent pieces 'just for fun'." Kernighan's lecture was attended by notable local personalities who were described in the Amusement Record as the "Fourth Estate". The reviewer concluded: "The lecture was a masterpiece of native eloquence, humour and pathos, and the only fault found was that it was too short."
"The Khan's Canticles", a hardcover book containing his poetry, was published by the Hamilton Spectator Printing Company in 1896. "The Khan's Book of Verse" was published in 1925.
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Robert Kirkland Kernighan Poems
I sit with my feet in the oven, My nose close up to the pipe ; I 'm as jokey as any spring robin, That 's fresh and is rather unripe.
Chickens Come Home To Roost
The world is wide and the faithful tide Returns to the welcome sands ; It 's often true that the work we do Conies back to its maker's hands.
Draw Up To The Fire
Draw up to the fire, stranger ; You can't go out on a day like this, When the drifts are high an the blizzards hiss ; Yer comfortabler with us, I wis
24 The Khan's Canticles
I heard a curse from a lower beast : I heard his whip lash crack like shot : I watched and heard till my heart was sore, And all the blood in my veins was hot.
' Mammy, mammy !' the wee girl cried ; The mother dropped a plate And hurried o'er the farmyard wide,
A Trooly Good Man
He never swears, he never smokes, He looks not on the wine ; He never laughs, he never jokes, He goes to bed at nine ;
A Blanket Of Leaves
The bushes and the trees Spread the old brown blanket; Snugly round their knees Is the old brown blanket;
To home and Country shouts we raise I For Home and Land to Heaven we cry ! In Home and Country let us live For Home and Land we stand to die !
12 The Khans Canticles
And none but I the secret k/iew Of where the precious ginseng grew. One autumn, when the woods were brown, I plowed the old-time fallow down,
Be Merciful To The Horse
Do the beasts of burden that strive and groan And writhe and crouch 'neath the pitiless rod Are they never allowed to make their moan And lay their wrongs at the feet of God ?
A Library of prudent lore, For prince or bearer of the hod ; 'Tis always an unfailing store Of Truth such is the Word of God.
Butchin Hogs A Farm Idyl
They are choppin up the kindlin, an they're fillin up the kettle ; The folks hev et thur breakfusts before the break of day : Dad is at the grindstone a sharpenin up his metal, And I Ve me ancient pants on we 're butchin hogs to-day !
A Float On A Floe
For I was tired of the country, And sick of the city's sin ; So I sat on the wharf, and wond'ring, watched The floe ice floating in.
A Grave In The Sunshine
His was a chance to make his grave 'Neath the storied altar high ; But his heart was changed to a boy's again, When they whispered that he must die.
34 The Khan's Canticles
We meet them and greet them at ev'ry turn,
We pass and know not their hidden sorrows.
O, brothers, think of the hidden fears
That throng the unseen bosoms quaking ;
It 's hard to laugh thro' the blinding tears,