My Dancin'-Days Is Over

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

What is it in old fiddle-chunes 'at makes me ketch my breath
And ripples up my backbone tel I'm tickled most to death? -
Kindo' like that sweet-sick feelin', in the long sweep of a swing,
The first you ever swung in, with yer first sweet-heart, i jing! -
Yer first picnic - yer first ice-cream - yer first o' ever'thing
'At happened 'fore yer dancin'-days wuz over!

I never understood it - and I s'pose I never can, -
But right in town here, yisterd'y, I heerd a pore blindman
A-fiddlin' old "Gray Eagle" - And-sir! I jes stopped my load
O' hay and listened at him - yes, and watched the way he "bow'd," -
And back I went, plum forty year', with boys and girls I knowed
And loved, long 'fore my dancin'-days wuz over! -

At high noon in yer city, - with yer blame Magnetic-Cars
A-hummin' and a-screetchin' past - and bands and G.A.R.'s
A-marchin' - and fire-ingines. - All the noise, the whole street through,
Wuz lost on me! - I only heerd a whipperwill er two,
It 'peared-like, kindo' callin' 'crost the darkness and the dew,
Them nights afore my dancin'-days wuz over.

T'uz Chused'y-night at Wetherell's, er We'nsd'y-night at Strawn's,
Er Fourth-o'-July-night at uther Tomps's house er John's! -
With old Lew Church from Sugar Crick, with that old fiddle he
Had sawed clean through the Army, from Atlanty to the sea -
And yit he'd fetched, her home ag'in, so's he could play fer me
One't more afore my dancin'-days wuz over!

The woods 'at's all ben cut away wuz growin' same as then;
The youngsters all wuz boys ag'in 'at's now all oldish men;
And all the girls 'at then wuz girls - I saw 'em, one and all,
As plain as then - the middle-sized, the short-and-fat, and tall -
And, 'peared-like, I danced "Tucker" fer 'em up and down the wall
Jes like afore my dancin' days wuz over!

* * * * *

Yer po-leece they can holler "Say! you, Uncle! drive ahead! -
You can't use all the right-o'-way!" - fer that wuz what they said! -
But, jes the same, - in spite of all 'at you call "interprise
And prog-gress of you-folks Today," we're all of fambly-ties -
We're all got feelin's fittin' fer the tears 'at's in our eyes
Er the smiles afore our dancin'-days is over.

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