A Bear Family

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Wunst, 'way West in Illinoise,
Wuz two Bears an' their two boys:
An' the two boys' names, you know,
Wuz - like ours is, - Jim an' Jo;
An' their parunts' names wuz same's,
All big grown-up people's names, -
Ist Miz Bear, the neighbers call
'Em, an' Mister Bear - 'at's all.
Yes - an' Miz Bear scold him, too,
Ist like grown folks shouldn't do!


Wuz a grea'-big river there,
An', 'crosst that, 's a mountain where
Old Bear said some day he'd go,
Ef she don't quit scoldin'so!
So, one day when he been down
The river, fishin', 'most to town,
An' come back 'thout no fish a-tall,
An' Jim an' Jo they run an' bawl
An' tell their ma their pa hain't fetch'
No fish, - she scold again an' ketch
Her old broom up an' biff him, too. -


An' he ist cry, an' say, "Boo-hoo!
I told you what I 'd do some day'."
An' he ist turned an' runned away
To where's the grea'-big river there,
An' ist splunged in an' swum to where
The mountain's at, 'way th'other side,
An' clumbed up there. An' Miz Bear cried -
An' little Jo an' little Jim -
Ist like their ma - bofe cried fer him! -
But he clumbed on, clean out o' sight,
He wuz so mad! - An' served 'em right!

Nen - when the Bear got 'way on top
The mountain, he heerd somepin' flop
Its wings - an' somepin' else he heerd
A-rattlin'-like. - An' he wuz skeerd,
An' looked 'way up, an' - Mercy sake! -


It wuz a' Eagul an' a SNAKE!
An'-sir! the Snake, he bite an' kill'
The Eagul, an' they bofe fall till
They strike the ground - k'spang-k'spat! -
Wite where the Bear wuz standin' at!
An' when here come the Snake at him,
The Bear he think o' little Jim
An' Jo, he did - an' their ma, too, -
All safe at home; an' he ist flew
Back down the mountain - an' could hear
The old Snake rattlin', sharp an' clear,
Wite clos't behind! - An' Bear he's so
All tired out, by time, you know,
He git down to the river there,
He know' he can't swim back to where
His folks is at. But ist wite nen
He see a boat an' six big men


'At's been a-shootin' ducks: An' so
He skeerd them out the boat, you know,
An' ist jumped in - an' Snake he tried
To jump in, too, but failed outside
Where all the water wuz; an' so
The Bear grabs one the things you row
The boat wiv an' ist whacks the head
Of the old Snake an' kills him dead! -

An' when he's killed him dead, w'y, nen
The old Snake's drownded dead again!
Nen Bear set in the boat an' bowed
His back an' rowed - an' rowed - an' rowed -
Till he's safe home - so tired he can't
Do nothin' but lay there an' pant
An' tell his childern, "Bresh my coat!"
An' tell his wife, "Go chain my boat!"
An' they're so glad he's back, they say
"They knowed he's comin' thataway
To ist surprise the dear ones there!"
An' Jim an' Jo they dried his hair


An' pulled the burrs out; an' their ma
She ist set there an' helt his paw
Till he wuz sound asleep, an' nen
She tell' him she won't scold again -
Never - never - never -
Ferever an' ferever!

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