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"Erasmus Wilson" by James Whitcomb Riley

The following is the complete text of James Whitcomb Riley's "Erasmus Wilson." Our presentation of this classic poem comes from The Works of James Whitcomb Riley: Vol. I (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
"A Child's Home Long Ago"
"Christine Braibry"
A Large Collection of his Short Poems
"Das Krist Kindel"
"Dead Selves"
"Doc Sifers"
"Dot Leedle Boy"
"Down to the Capital"
"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.

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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.

"Erasmus Wilson" by James Whitcomb Riley



'RAS WILSON, I respect you, 'cause
You're common, like you allus was
Afore you went to town and s'prised
The world by gittin' "reckonized,"
And yit perservin, as I say,
Your common hoss-sense ev'ryway!
And when that name o' yourn occurs
On hand-bills, er in newspapers,
Er letters writ by friends 'at ast
About you, same as in the past,
And neghbors and relations 'low
You're out o' the tall timber now,
And "gittin' thare" about as spry's
The next!--as I say, when my eyes,
Er ears, lights on your name, I mind
The first time 'at I come to find
You--and my Rickollection yells,
Jest jubilunt as old sleigh-bells--
"'Ras Wilson! Say! Hold up! and shake
A paw, fer old acquaintance sake!"

My Rickollection, more'n like,
Hain't overly too apt to strike
The what's-called "cultchurd public eye"
As wisdum of the deepest dye,--
And yit my Rickollection makes
So blame lots fewer bad mistakes,
Regardin' human-natchur' and
The fellers 'at I've shook theyr hand,
Than my best jedgemunt's done, the day
I've met 'em--'fore I got away,--
'At--Well, 'Ras Wilson, let me grip
Your hand in warmest pardnership!

Dad-burn ye!--Like to jest haul back
A' old flat-hander, jest che-whack!
And take you 'twixt the shoulders, say,
Sometime you're lookin' t'other way!--
Er, maybe whilse you're speakin' to
A whole blame Courthouse-full o' 'thu-
Syastic friends, I'd like to jest
Come in-like and break up the nest
Afore you hatched anuther cheer,
And say: "'Ras, I can't stand hitched here
All night--ner wouldn't ef I could!--
But Little Bethel Neghborhood,
You ust to live at, 's sent some word
Fer you, ef ary chance occurred
To git it to ye,--so ef you
Kin stop, I'm waitin' fer ye to!"

You're common as I said afore--
You're common, yit uncommon more.--
You allus kindo' 'pear, to me,
What all mankind had ort to be--
Jest natchnrl, and the more hurraws
You git, the less you know the cause--
Like as ef God Hisse'f stood by,
Where best on earth hain't half knee-high,
And seein' like, and knowin' He
'S the Only Great Man really,
You're jest content to size your hight
With any feller-man's in sight.--
And even then they's scrubs, like me,
Feels stuck-up, in your company!

Like now:--I want to go with you
Plum out o' town a mile er two
Clean past the Fair-ground whare's some hint
O' pennyrile er peppermint,
And bottom-lands, and timber thick
Enugh to sorto' shade the crick!
I want to see you--want to set
Down somers, whare the grass hain't wet,
And kindo' breathe you, like puore air--
And taste o' your tobacker thare,
And talk and chaw! Talk o' the birds
We've knocked with cross-bows.--Afterwards
Drop, mayby, into some dispute
'Bout "pomgrannies," er cal'mus-root--
And how they growed, and whare?--on tree
Er vine?--Who's best boy-memory!--
And wasn't it gingsang, insted
O' cal'mus-root, growed like you said?--
Er how to tell a coon-track from
A mussrat's;--er how milksick come--
Er ef cows brung it?--Er why now
We never see no "muley"-cow--
Ner "frizzly"-chicken--ner no "clay-
Bank" mare--ner nothin' thataway!--
And what's come o' the yeller-core
Old wortermelons?--hain't no more.--
Tomattusus, the same--all red-
Uns nowadays--All past joys fled--
Each and all jest gone k-whizz!
Like our days o' childhood is!

Dag-gone it, 'Ras! they hain't no friend,
It 'pears-like, left to comperhend
Sich things as these but you, and see
How dratted sweet they air to me!
But you, 'at's loved 'em allus, and
Kin sort 'em out and understand
'Em, same as the fine books you've read,
And all fine thoughts you've writ, er said,
Er worked out, through long nights o' rain,
And doubts and fears, and hopes, again,
As bright as morning when she broke,--
You know a teardrop from a joke!
And so, 'Ras Wilson, stop and shake
A paw, fer old acquaintance sake!

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