The Old School-Chum

A poem by James Whitcomb Riley

He puts the poem by, to say
His eyes are not themselves to-day!

A sudden glamour o'er his sight -
A something vague, indefinite -

An oft-recurring blur that blinds
The printed meaning of the lines,

And leaves the mind all dusk and dim
In swimming darkness - strange to him!

It is not childishness, I guess, -
Yet something of the tenderness

That used to wet his lashes when
A boy seems troubling him again; -

The old emotion, sweet and wild,
That drove him truant when a child,

That he might hide the tears that fell
Above the lesson - "Little Nell."

And so it is he puts aside
The poem he has vainly tried

To follow; and, as one who sighs
In failure, through a poor disguise

Of smiles, he dries his tears, to say
His eyes are not themselves to-day.

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