At Last

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

A dark, tempestuous night; the stars shut in
With shrouds of fog; an inky, jet-black blot
The firmament; and where the moon has been
An hour agone seems like the darkest spot.
The weird wind - furious at its demon game -
Rattles one's fancy like a window-frame.

A care-worn face peers out into the dark,
And childish faces - frightened at the gloom -
Grow awed and vacant as they turn to mark
The father's as he passes through the room:
The gate latch clatters, and wee baby Bess
Whispers, "The doctor's tummin' now, I dess!"

The father turns; a sharp, swift flash of pain
Flits o'er his face: "Amanda, child! I said
A moment since - I see I must AGAIN -
Go take your little sisters off to bed!
There, Effie, Rose, and CLARA MUSTN'T CRY!"
"I tan't he'p it - I'm fyaid 'at mama'll die!"

What are his feelings, when this man alone
Sits in the silence, glaring in the grate
That sobs and sighs on in an undertone
As stoical - immovable as Fate,
While muffled voices from the sick one's room
Come in like heralds of a dreaded doom?

The door-latch jingles: in the doorway stands
The doctor, while the draft puffs in a breath -
The dead coals leap to life, and clap their hands,
The flames flash up. A face as pale as death
Turns slowly - teeth tight clenched, and with a look
The doctor, through his specs, reads like a book.

"Come, brace up, Major!" - "Let me know the worst!"
"W'y you're the biggest fool I ever saw -
Here, Major - take a little brandy first -
There! She's a BOY - I mean HE is - hurrah!"
"Wake up the other girls - and shout for joy -
Eureka is his name - I've found A BOY!"

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'At Last' by James Whitcomb Riley

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy