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"A Child's Home Long Ago" by James Whitcomb Riley

The following is the complete text of James Whitcomb Riley's "A Child's Home--Long Ago." Our presentation of this classic poem comes from The Works of James Whitcomb Riley: Vol. V -- Rhymes of Childhood (1899). The various books, short stories and poems we offer are presented free of charge with absolutely no advertising as a public service from Internet Accuracy Project.

Visit these other works by James Whitcomb Riley
"The Bear Story"
"Chairley Burke's in Town"
The Champion Checker-Player of Ameriky
"Christine Braibry"
A Large Collection of his Short Poems
"Das Krist Kindel"
"Dead Selves"
"Doc Sifers"
"Dot Leedle Boy"
"Down to the Capital"
"Erasmus Wilson"
"Ezra House"
"Farmer Whipple--Bachelor"
"Grandfather Squeers"
"He Called Her In"
"The Hoosier Folk-Child"
"How John Quit the Farm"
"Jack the Giant-Killer"
"Kingry's Mill"
"Last Christmas Was a Year Ago"
"Little Johnts's Chris'mus"

"Little Mandy's Christmas Tree"
"Maymie's Story of Red Riding-Hood"
"Mr. What's-His-Name"
"My Philosofy"
"Mylo Jones's Wife"
"A Nest-Egg"
"A New Year's Time at Willards's"
"Old John Clevenger on Buckeyes"
"An Old Sweetheart"
"The Old Swimmin'-Hole"
"On the Banks o' Deer Crick"
"The Pathos of Applause"
Poems from "Rhymes of Childhood"
"The Preacher's Boy"
"Regardin' Terry Hut"
"The Rossville Lecture Course"
"The Runaway Boy"
"That-Air Young-Un"
"This Man Jones"
"Thoughts fer the Discuraged Farmer"
"To My Old Friend, William Leachman"
"Tradin' Joe"
"What Chris'mas Fetched the Wigginses"

To see all available titles by other authors, drop by our index of free books alphabetized by author or arranged alphabetically by title.

Potential uses for the free books, stories and prose we offer
* Rediscovering an old favorite book, short story or poem.
* Bibliophiles expanding their collection of public domain ebooks at no cost.
* Teachers trying to locate a free online copy of a short story or poem for use in the classroom.

NOTE: We try to present these classic literary works as they originally appeared in print. As such, they sometimes contain adult themes, offensive language, typographical errors, and often utilize unconventional, older, obsolete or intentionally incorrect spelling and/or punctuation conventions.

"A Child's Home--Long Ago" by James Whitcomb Riley



Even as the gas-flames flicker to and fro,
The Old Man's wavering fancies leap and glow,--
As o'er the vision, like a mirage, falls
The old log cabin with its dingy walls,
And crippled chimney with its crutch-like prop
Beneath a sagging shoulder at the top:
The coonskin battened fast on either side--
The wisps of leaf-tobacco--"cut-and-dried";
The yellow strands of quartered apples, hung
In rich festoons that tangle in among
The morning-glory vines that clamber o'er
The little clapboard roof above the door:
The old well-sweep that drops a courtesy
To every thirsting soul so graciously,
The stranger, as he drains the dripping gourd,
Intuitively murmurs, "Thank the Lord!"
Again through mists of memory arise
The simple scenes of home before the eyes:--
The happy mother, humming, with her wheel,
The dear old melodies that used to steal
So drowsily upon the summer air,
The house-dog hid his bone, forgot his care,
And nestled at her feet, to dream, perchance,
Some cooling dream of winter-time romance:
The square of sunshine through the open door
That notched its edge across the puncheon floor,
And made a golden coverlet whereon
The god of slumber had a picture drawn
Of Babyhood, in all the loveliness
Of dimpled cheek and limb and linsey dress:
The bough-filled fireplace, and the mantel wide,
Its fire-scorched ankles stretched on either side,
Where, perched upon its shoulders 'neath the joist,
The old clock hiccoughed, harsh and husky-voiced,
And snarled the premonition, dire and dread,
When it should hammer Time upon the head:
Tomatoes, red and yellow, in a row,
Preserved not then for diet, but for show,--
Like rare and precious jewels in the rough
Whose worth was not appraised at half enough:
The jars of jelly, with their dusty tops;
The bunch of pennyroyal; the cordial drops;
The flask of camphor, and the vial of squills,
The box of buttons, garden-seeds, and pills;
And, ending all the mantel's bric-a-brac,
The old, time-honored "Family Almanack."
And memory, with a mother's touch of love,
Climbs with us to the dusky loft above,
Where drowsily we trail our fingers in
The mealy treasures of the harvest bin;
And, feeling with our hands the open track,
We pat the bag of barley on the back;
And, groping onward through the mellow gloom,
We catch the hidden apple's faint perfume.
And, mingling with it, fragrant hints of pear
And musky melon ripening somewhere.
Again we stretch our limbs upon the bed
Where first our simple childish prayers were said;
And while, without, the gallant cricket trills
A challenge to the solemn whippoorwills,
And, filing on the chorus with his glee,
The katydid whets all the harmony
To feather-edge of incoherent song,
We drop asleep, and peacefully along
The current of our dreams we glide away
To the dim harbor of another day.

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