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"Old John Clevenger on Buckeyes" by James Whitcomb Riley

The following is the complete text of James Whitcomb Riley's "Old John Clevenger on Buckeyes." 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
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The Champion Checker-Player of Ameriky
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"He Called Her In"
"The Hoosier Folk-Child"
"How John Quit the Farm"
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"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"
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"A New Year's Time at Willards's"
"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"
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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.

"Old John Clevenger on Buckeyes" by James Whitcomb Riley



Old John Clevenger lets on,
Allus, like he's purty rough
Timber.--He's a grate old John!--
"Rough?"--don't swaller no sich stuff!
Moved here, sence the war was through,
From Ohio--somers near
Old Bucyrus,--loyal, too,
As us "Hoosiers" is to here!
Git old John stirred up a bit
On his old home stompin'-ground--
Talks same as he lived thare yit,
When some subject brings it round--
Like, fer instunce, Sund'y last,
Fetched his wife, and et and stayed
All night with us.--Set and gassed
Tel plum midnight--'cause I made
Some remark 'bout "buckeyes" and
"What was buckeyes good fer?"--So,
Like I 'lowed, he waved his hand
And lit in and let me know:--

"'What is Buckeyes good fer?'--What's
Pineys and fergitmenots?--
Honeysuckles, and sweet-peas,
And sweet-williamsuz, and these
Johnny-jump-ups ev'rywhare,
Growin' round the roots o' trees
In Spring-weather?--what air they
Good fer?--kin you tell me--Hey?
'Good to look at?' Well they air!
'Specially when Winter's gone,
Clean dead-certin! and the wood's
Green again, and sun feels good's
June!--and shed your blame boots on
The back porch, and lit out to
Roam round like you ust to do,
Bare-foot, up and down the crick,
Whare the buckeyes growed so thick,
And witch-hazel and pop-paws,
And hackberries and black-haws--
With wild pizen-vines jis knit
Over and en-nunder it,
And wove round it all, I jing!
Tel you couldn't hardly stick
A durn caseknife through the thing!
Wriggle round through that; and then--
All het-up, and scratched and tanned,
And muskeeter-bit and mean-
Feelin'--all at onc't again,
Come out suddent on a clean
Slopin' little hump o' green
Dry soft grass, as fine and grand
As a pollor-sofy!--And
Jis pile down thare!--and tell me
Anywhares you'd ruther be--
'Ceptin' right thare, with the wild-
Flowrs all round ye, and your eyes
Smilin' with 'em at the skies,
Happy as a little child!
Well!--right here, I want to say,
Poets kin talk all they please
'Bout 'wild-flowrs, in colors gay,'
And 'sweet blossoms flauntin' theyr
Beauteous fragrunce on the breeze'--
But the sight o' buckeyes jis
Sweet to me as blossoms is!

"I'm Ohio-born--right whare
People's all called 'Buckeyes' thare--
'Cause, I s'pose, our buckeye crap's
Biggest in the world, perhaps!--
Ner my head don't stretch my hat
Too much on account o' that!--
'Cause it's Natchur's ginerus hand
Sows 'em broadcast ore the land,
With eye-single fer man's good
And the gineral neghborhood!
So buckeyes jis natchurly
'Pears like kith-and-kin to me!
'Slike the good old sayin' wuz,
'Purty is as purty does!'--
We can't eat 'em, cookd er raw--
Yit, I mind, tomattusuz
Wuz considerd pizenus
Onc't--and dasent eat 'em!--Pshaw--
'Twouldn't take me by supprise,
Someday, ef we et buckeyes!
That, though, 's nuther here ner thare!--
Jis the Buckeye, whare we air,
In the present times, is what
Ockuppies my lovin' care
And my most perfoundest thought!
. . . Guess, this minute, what I got
In my pocket, 'at I've packed
Purt'-nigh forty year.--A dry,
Slick and shiny, warped and cracked,
Wilted, weazened old buckeye!
What's it thare fer? What's my hart
In my brest fer?--'Cause it's part
Of my life--and 'tends to biz--
Like this buckeye's bound to act--
'Cause it 'tends to Rhumatiz!

". . . Ketched more rhumatiz than fish,
Seinen', onc't--and pants froze on
My blame legs!--And ust to wish
I wuz well er dead and gone!
Doc give up the case, and shod
His old hoss again and stayed
On good roads!--And thare I laid!
Pap he tuck some bluegrass sod
Steeped in whisky, bilin'-hot,
And socked that on! Then I got
Sorto' holt o' him, somehow--
Kindo' crazy-like, they say--
And I'd killed him, like as not,
Ef I hadn't swooned away!
Smell my scortcht pelt purt' nigh now!
Well--to make a long tale short--
I hung on the blame disease
Like a shavin'-hoss! and sort
O' wore it out by slow degrees--
Tel my legs wuz straight enugh
To poke through my pants again
And kick all the doctor-stuff
In the fi-er-place! Then turned in
And tuck Daddy Craig's old cuore--
Jis a buckeye--and that's shore.--
Hain't no case o' rhumatiz
Kin subsist whare buckeyes is!"

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