Poems by James Whitcomb Riley

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As I sat smoking, alone, yesterday,
Crowd about me, little children -
Wunst, 'way West in Illinoise,
When snow is here, and the trees look weird,
"O I am weary!" she sighed, as her billowy
Folks has be'n to town, and Sahry
The Child-World - long and long since lost to view -
Pa he bringed me here to stay
I come upon it suddenly, alone -
I have sipped, with drooping lashes,
Allus when our Pa he's away
All were quite gracious in their plaudits of
Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing,
Just the airiest, fairiest slip of a thing,
Piped to the Spirit of John Keats.
Gracie wuz allus a careless tot;
I' got no patience with blues at all!
I dreamed I was a spider;
Mellow hazes, lowly trailing
Lying listless in the mosses
Us-folks is purty pore - but Ma
A fantasy that came to me
They's a kind o' feel in the air, to me.
The afternoon of summer folds
Seems like a feller'd ort 'o jes' to-day
I caught but a glimpse of him. Summer was here.
I caught but a glimpse of him. Summer was here,
I
Last Thanksgivin'-dinner we
Oh, the hobo's life is a roving life;
Bud, come here to your uncle a spell,
She will not smile;
The past is like a story
There! Little girl; don't cry!
Settin' round the stove, last night,
He leant against a lamp-post, lost
It was a man of many parts,
Scene. - A kitchen. - Group of Children, popping corn. - The Fairy Queen of the Seasons discovered in the smoke of the corn-popper. - Waving her wand, and, with eerie, sharp, imperious ejaculations, addressing the bespelled auditors, who neither see
A monument for the Soldiers!
Mother, O mother! forever I cry for you,
In words like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
1
Even in such a scene of senseless play
Sometimes I think 'at Parents does
I woo'd a woman once,
While any day was notable and dear
I caught, for a second, across the crowd -
I want to sing something - but this is all -
Now, Tudens, you sit on this knee - and 'scuse
Uncle he says 'at 'way down in the sea
O here's a little rhyme for the Spring- or Summer-time -
Our dog Fred
Miss Medairy Dory-Ann
[Voice from behind high board-fence.]
A wee little worm in a hickory-nut
A daring prince, of the realm Rangg Dhune,
There is ever a song somewhere, my dear;
O were I not a clod, intent
A song of Long Ago:
Sing! gangling lad, along the brink
Written In Madison Caweln's "Lyrics and Idyls."
She sang a song of May for me,
Barefooted boys scud up the street
A languid atmosphere, a lazy breeze,
AFTER LEE O. HARRIS
Oh! tell me a tale of the airly days -
"Now who shall say he loves me not."
I am tired of this!
I'm bin a-visitun 'bout a week
It is my dream to have you here with me,
Low hidden in among the forest trees
Not very many years ago the writer was for some months stationed at
Welladay!
In its color, shade and shine,
Dexery-tethery! down in the dike,
It's the curiousest thing in creation,
Abe Martin! - dad-burn his old picture!
Ah, Almon Keefer! what a boy you were,
1900
With a sweeter voice than birds
I find an old deserted nest,
When little Dickie Swope's a man,
When I wuz ist a little bit
Hey, Old Midsummer! are you here again,
William Williams his name was - or so he said; - Bill Williams they
The ordered intermingling
As one who cons at evening o'er an album all alone,
An old sweetheart of mine! - Is this her presence here with me,
"I have twankled the strings of the twinkering rain;
How tired I am! I sink down all alone
Years did I vainly seek the good Lord's grace,
He faced his canvas (as a seer whose ken
TO HOMER DAVENPORT
There's a space for good to bloom in
I've thought a power on men and things,
One time, when we'z at Aunty's house -
Ah, Luxury! Beyond the heat
A dark, tempestuous night; the stars shut in
At Noey's house - when they arrived with him -
Far in the night, and yet no rest for him! The pillow next his own
O we go down to sea in ships -
I.
The little town, as I recall it, was of just enough dignity and dearth of the same to be an ordinary county seat in Indiana - "The Grand Old Hoosier State," as it was used to being howlingly referred to by the forensic stump orator from the old stand
A day of torpor in the sullen heat
As a harvester, at dusk,
I cannot say, and I will not say
Heigh-ho! Babyhood! Tell me where you linger:
Back from a two-years' sentence!
Old friends allus is the best,
Be our fortunes as they may,
O your hands - they are strangely fair!
1
Why did we meet long years of yore?
O love is like an untamed steed! -
Being his mother - when he goes away
The merriment that followed was subdued -
Ho! it's come, kids, come!
A was an elegant Ape
You think it is a sorry thing
But yesterday!...
The harp has fallen from the master's hand;
Some peoples thinks they ain't no Fairies now
First the teacher called the roll,
By her white bed I muse a little space:
It's Chairley Burke's in town, b'ys! He's down til "Jamesy's Place,"
A word of Godspeed and good cheer
When frost's all on our winder, an' the snow's
When Bess gave her Dollies a Tea, said she, -
My little story, Cousin Rufus said,
The Crankadox leaned o'er the edge of the moon
Curly Locks! Curly Locks! wilt thou be mine?
Dan O'Sullivan: It's your
Old friend of mine, whose chiming name
I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight
I had fed the fire and stirred it, till the sparkles in delight
I.
DIED - Early morning of September 5, 1876, and
DAWN
How many of my selves are dead?
The touches of her hands are like the fall
I hold your trembling hand to-night - and yet
Little Boy! Halloo! - halloo!
With Hale Affection And Abiding Faith These Rhymes And Pictures Are Inscribed To The Children Everywhere
Of all the doctors I could cite you to in this-'ere town
Donn Piatt - of Mac-o-chee, -
Ot's a leedle Christmas story
Noon-time an' June-time, down around the river!
"Best time to kill a hog's when he's fat." - Old Saw.
I' be'n down to the Capital at Washington, D. C.,
Because her eyes were far too deep
"Wasn't it a funny dream! - perfectly bewild'rin'! -
Dreamer, say, will you dream for me
The frightened herds of clouds across the sky
May 1, 1891.
Awf'lest boy in this-here town
Many pleasures of youth have been buoyantly sung -
Just as of old! The world rolls on and on;
Lay away the story, -
I
1
I
It's a mystery to see me - a man o' fifty-four,
A NEW VERSION BY LEE O. HARRIS AND JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
Our three cats is Maltese cats,
All seemed delighted, though the elders more,
Me an' Bert an' Minnie-Belle
For you, I could forget the gay
TO WILLIAM MORRIS PIERSON
Friend of a wayward hour, you came
A troth, and a grief, and a blessing,
For the sake of guilty conscience, and the heart that ticks the time
Go, Winter! Go thy ways! We want again
Say good-by er howdy-do -
"My grandfather Squeers," said The Raggedy Man,
Granny's come to our house,
Sir Launcelot rode overthwart and endlong in a wide forest, and held no path but as wild adventure led him... And he returned and came again to his horse, and took off his saddle and his bridle, and let him pasture; and unlaced his helm, and ungirdle
Ho! green fields and running brooks!
Pap's got his patent-right, and rich is all creation;
Fold the little waxen hands
I
Just drifting on together -
I
There was a curious quiet for a space
O her beautiful eyes! they are as blue as the dew
O your hands - they are strangely fair!
Ah, help me! but her face and brow
The beauty of her hair bewilders me -
Somebody's sent a funny little valentine to me.
In some strange place
Herr Weiser! Three-score-years-and-ten,
When two little boys - renowned but for noise -
Tomps 'ud allus haf to say
DEAD! my wayward boy - my own -
"I'm home again, my dear old Room,
Close the book and dim the light,
When chirping crickets fainter cry,
How slight a thing may set one's fancy drifting
"How did you rest, last night?" -
I got to thinkin' of her - both her parents dead and gone -
Nobody on the old farm here but Mother, me and John,
I can't extend to every friend
If I knew what poets know,
We're The Twins from Aunt Marinn's,
I crave, dear Lord,
Illileo, the moonlight seemed lost across the vales -
Ha! My dear! I'm back again -
Picnics is fun 'at's purty hard to beat.
You in the hammock; and I, near by,
O in the depths of midnight
I
In the heart of June, love,
There is a princess in the South
Our Land - our Home - the common home indeed
To the Elect of Love, - or side-by-side
Parunts knows lots more than us,
Iry an' Billy an' Jo! -
"When it's got to be," - like! always say,
Bad Boy's Version.
(Grandfather, musing.)
His daily, nightly task is o'er -
Jap Miller down at Martinsville's the blamedest feller yit!
He was jes a plain ever'-day, all-round kind of a jour.,
"Write me a rhyme of the present time".
We got up a Christmas-doin's
Writ in between the lines of his life-deed
John McKeen, in his rusty dress,
John McKeen, in his rusty dress,
A strange life - strangely passed!
The world is turned ag'in' me,
Had a hare-lip - Joney had:
O her eyes are amber-fine -
O queenly month of indolent repose!
Out at Woodruff Place - afar
Just to be good -
On old Brandywine - about
O heart of mine, we shouldn't
1
Dear Lord, to Thee my knee is bent -
Last night - how deep the darkness was!
Last night - how deep the darkness was!
Ay, thou varlet! Laugh away!
Leedle Dutch baby haff come ter town!
Leonainie - Angels named her;
Let us forget. What matters it that we
NEW CASTLE, JULY 4, 1878
"Uncle Jake's Place," St. Jo, Mo., 1874
The audience entire seemed pleased - indeed
I would not trace the hackneyed phrase
When Dicky was sick
And there, in that ripe Summer-night, once more
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
I'm twins, I guess, 'cause my Ma say
Such a dear little street it is, nestled away
Jes' a little bit o' feller - I remember still, -
The winds have talked with him confidingly;
The winds have talked with him confidingly;
The maple strews the embers of its leaves
AFTER READING HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY
A lover said, "O Maiden, love me well,
They's nothin' in the name to strike
W'y, one time wuz a little-weenty dirl,
'Twas the height of the fete when we quitted the riot,
The warm pulse of the nation has grown chill;
THE DREAMER
They called him Mr. What's-his-name:
John B. McKinney, Attorney and Counselor at Law, as his sign read, was, for many reasons, a fortunate man. For many other reasons he was not. He was chiefly fortunate in being, as certain opponents often strove to witheringly designate him, "the son
A corpulent man is my bachelor chum,
O soul of mine, look out and see
What is it in old fiddle-chunes 'at makes me ketch my breath
My father's halls, so rich and rare,
"He is my friend," I said, -
He's jes' a great, big, awk'ard, hulkin'
Ah, friend of mine, how goes it
My Mary, O my Mary!
You've a manner all so mellow,
"Mylo Jones's wife" was all
I am not prone to moralize
When Little Claude was naughty wunst
I hail thee, Nessmuk, for the lofty tone
There are many things that boys may know -
Another hero of those youthful years
"They ain't much 'tale' about it!" Noey said. -
Of the North I wove a dream,
We are not always glad when we smile:
Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!
Wasn't it pleasant, O brother mine,
Old Bob White's a funny bird! -
"If I die first," my old chum paused to say,
They ain't no style about 'em,
Old Indiany, 'course we know
Old John's jes' made o' the commonest stuff -
Old Man Whiskery-Whee-Kum-Wheeze
I
Old October's purt' nigh gone,
I have jest about decided
On the banks o' Deer Crick! There's the place fer me! -
Hi and whoop-hooray, boys!
Only a dream!
A goddess, with a siren's grace, -
Ho! I'm going back to where
Our hired girl, she's 'Lizabuth Ann;
1
Her heart knew naught of sorrow,
O it's good to ketch a relative 'at's richer and don't run
They walk here with us, hand-in-hand;
"He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
"He shall sleep unscathed of thieves
You think them "out of reach," your dead?
Out of the hitherwhere into the Yon -
"The voice of One hath spoken,
This Pan is but an idle god, I guess,
Young Philiper Flash was a promising lad,
The pipes of Pan! Not idler now are they
I saw a man - and envied him beside -
What makes you come HERE fer, Mister,
A quite convincing axiom
Where are they - the Afterwhiles -
Reach your hand to me, my friend,
Sweet little myth of the nursery story -
Sence I tuk holt o' Gibbses' Churn
Right here at home, boys, in old Hoosierdom,
What intuition named thee? - Through what thrill
I' b'en a-kindo' "musin'," as the feller says, and I'm
Say something to me! I've waited so long -
"Whatever the weather may be," says he--
Scotty's dead - Of course he is!
There's a habit I have nurtured,
1
I.
Thousands of thousands of hushed years ago,
I thought the deacon liked me, yit
Thou drowsy god, whose blurred eyes, half awink
Orphaned, I cry to thee:
Wunst I looked our pepper-box lid
[W.S.]
[W.M.]
[R.B.]
[W.W.]
[R.H.]
[A.T.]
Say farewell, and let me go;
I heard the bells at midnight
I hain't no hand at tellin' tales,
A woman's figure, on a ground of night
AN OLD SWEETHEART.
Let us be thankful - not only because
"That little dog 'ud scratch at that door
You and I, and that night, with its perfume and glory! -
Maud Muller worked at making hay,
O Printerman of sallow face,
Grand Haven is in Michigan, and in possession, too,
I.
THAT ALEX "IST MAKED UP HIS-OWN-SE'F"
The Beautiful City! Forever
I quarrel not with Destiny,
When Old Folks they wuz young like us
Blossoms crimson, white, or blue,
Blossoms crimson, white, or blue,
Bound and bordered in leaf-green,
You who to the rounded prime
The boy lives on our Farm, he's not
I want to be a Soldier! -
Where are they? - the friends of my childhood enchanted -
Las' time 'at Uncle Sidney come,
Little brook! Little brook!
You better not fool with a Bumblebee! -
I bear dis cross dis many a mile.
A Child-World, yet a wondrous world no less,
Oh, the Circus-Day parade! How the bugles played and played!
Some sings of the lily, and daisy, and rose,
All hope of rest withdrawn me? -
So lone I stood, the very trees seemed drawn
O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
Long years ago, a funny man,
Time is so long when a man is dead!
O the drum!
Within the sitting-room, the company
Who am I but the Frog - the Frog!
'Twas a Funny Little Fellow
Nosing around in an old box - packed away, and lost to memory for
When we hear Uncle Sidney tell
I'm thist a little cripple boy, an' never goin' to grow
The harp of the minstrel has never a tone
Like a drift of faded blossoms
Hereafter! O we need not waste
The Hired Man's supper, which he sat before,
We must get home - for we have been away
Owned a pair o' skates onc't. - Traded
The Hoosier Folk-Child - all unsung -
"The hoss he is a splendud beast;
No song is mine of Arab steed -
The Jaybird he's my favorite
[Restored Romaunt.]
Sometimes I keep
They rode right out of the morning sun -
"I deem that God is not disquieted" -
Here's his ragged "roundabout";
He seemed so strange to me, every way -
O The Little Lady's dainty
When I was a little boy, long ago,
The little old poem that nobody reads
" - And any little tiny kickshaws." - Shakespeare.
You kin boast about yer cities, and their stiddy growth and size,
"Hey, Bud! O Bud!" rang out a gleeful call, -
I put by the half-written poem,
Alone they walked - their fingers knit together,
The rhyme o' The Raggedy Man's 'at's best
I
It's many's the scenes which is dear to my mind
They all climbed up on a high board-fence -
O big old tree, so tall an' fine,
It's mighty good to git back to the old town, shore,
The old days - the far days -
Neglected now is the old guitar
The Old Hay-mow's the place to play
This is "The old Home by the Mill" - far we still call it so,
Lo! steadfast and serene,
Old man never had much to say -
The old sea captain has sailed the seas
He puts the poem by, to say
"Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Friends, my heart is half aweary
A Old Tramp slep' in our stable wunst,
O the old trundle-bed where I slept when a boy!
I.
How dear to my heart are the scenes of my childhood
Such was the Child-World of the long-ago -
The orchard lands of Long Ago!
O touch me with your hands -
The greeting of the company throughout
"When little 'Pollus Morton he's
Noey Bixler ketched him, and fetched him in to me
It was just a very
Season of snows, and season of flowers,
Kindly and warm and tender,
They faced each other: Topaz-brown
I am looking for Love. Has he passed this way,
The man that rooms next door to me:
O The Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
I.
The dawn of the day was dreary,
When Autumn shakes the rambo-tree -
Knightly Rider of the Knee
The ripest peach is highest on the tree -
I so loved once, when Death came by I hid
A TRAGI-COMEDY, IN ONE ACT.
It tossed its head at the wooing breeze;
Wunst I sassed my Pa, an' he
The same old story told again -
The midnight is not more bewildering
Wilful we are in our infirmity
Thou Poet, who, like any lark,
The landscape, like the awed face of a child,
MAY 30, 1878,
While with Ambition's hectic flame
I
O The South Wind and the Sun!
O the South Wind and the Sun
A king - estranged from his loving Queen
I know all about the Sphinx -
Uncle Sidney, when he wuz here,
First she come to our house,
The touches of her hands are like the fall
The Town Karnteel! It's who'll reveal
At Union Station
I
O the night was dark and the night was late,
"'S cur'ous-like," said the tree-toad,
"'Scurious-like," said the tree-toad,
One 's the pictur' of his Pa,
The stars are falling, and the sky
The stars are failing, and the sky
O the waiting in the watches of the night!
Las' July - an', I persume
I.
They meet to say farewell: Their way
They meet to say farewell: Their way
Take a feller 'at's sick and laid up on the shelf,
Pap he allus ust to say,
I've ben thinkin' back, of late,
This man Jones was what you'd call
Tommy's alluz playin' jokes,
The summer winds is sniffin' round the bloomin' locus' trees;
Always suddenly they are gone -
Where do you go when you go to sleep,
The ticking - ticking - ticking of the clock!
Wait for the morning! Ah! We wait indeed
I.
"tired out!" Yet face and brow
The smiling face of a happy boy
INSCRIBED IN "TALES OF THE OCEAN"
Get gone, thou most uncomfortable ghost!
When the lids of dusk are falling
To hear her sing - to hear her sing -
In fancy, always, at thy desk, thrown wide,
Fer forty year and better you have been a friend to me,
Sweet Singer that I loe the maist
Most tangible of all the gods that be,
The deadnin' and the thicket's jes' a b'ilin' full o' June,
A Voice From the Interior of Old Hoop-Pole Township
AFTER HIS LONG SILENCE
Tinkle on, O sweet guitar,
The bookman he's a humming-bird -
Coming, clean from the Maryland-end
A passel o' the boys last night -
Tom Van Arden, my old friend,
Dimple-cheeked and rosy-lipped,
I'm one o' these cur'ous kind o' chaps
I.
Ho! the old Snow-Man
Marcellus, won't you tell us -
Up and down old Brandywine,
Wait for the morning: - It will come, indeed,
Lawzy! don't I rickollect
"Want to be whur mother is! Want to be whur mother is!"
And you're the poet of this concern?
We are not always glad when we smile:
"Lord, I believe: help Thou mine unbelief."
We must get home! How could we stray like this? -
"Rain and rain! And rain and rain!"
"Rain and rain! and rain and rain!"
It hain't no use to grumble and complane;
'Tis said old Santa Claus one time
Wintertime, er Summertime,
There wasn't two purtier farms in the state
'I muse to-day, in a listless way,
When Age comes on! -
If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
What dat scratchin' at de kitchin do'?
When country roads begin to thaw
When evening shadows fall,
When June is here - what art have we to sing
When Lide married him - w'y, she had to jes dee-fy
When Memory, with gentle hand,
I
When Old Jack died, we stayed from school (they said,
When she comes home again! A thousand ways
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
In Spring, when the green gits back in the trees,
A thing 'at's 'bout as tryin' as a healthy man kin meet
Wasn't it a good time,
When we three meet? Ah! friend of mine
"Where shall we land you, sweet?" - Swinburne.
The old farm-home is Mother's yet and mine,
The old farm-home is Mother's yet and mine,
O the Lands of Where-Away!
O it was but a dream I had
Who bides his time, and day by day
Jes' a little bit o' feller - I remember still -
I
Old wortermelon time is a-comin' round again,
My dear old friends - It jes beats all,
Her hair was, oh, so dense a blur

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