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A Collection of Short Poems by James Whitcomb Riley

Below you'll find a variety of shorter poems and sonnets by James Whitcomb Riley. This assortment includes, "At Broad Ripple," "Away," "Babe Herrick," "Baby's Dying," "Bedouin," "The Boys' Candidate," "The Bumblebee," "By Her White Bed," "Christmas Afterthought," "The Days Gone By," "Exceeding All," "A Fruit Piece," "Her Beautiful Eyes," "His Mother," "His Vigil," "Home at Night," "How it Happened," "John Brown," "Last Night And This," "Laughter Holding Both His Sides," "Lawyer and Child," "Leedle Dutch Baby," "The Legend Glorified," "The Little Tiny Kickshaw," "The Little Town o' Tailholt," "Lockerbie Street," "Longfellow's Love for the Children," "Mother Goose," "My Friend," "Nothin' to Say," "Old Chums," "The Old Tramp," "On a Dead Babe," "Pansies," "The Ripest Peach," "Sister Jones's Confession," "The Sphinx," "To Hattie - On Her Birthday," "The Train-Misser," "The Truly Marvellous," "Uncle Sidney," "Wait for the Morning," "The Way the Baby Came," "The Way the Baby Slept," "The Way the Baby Woke," "When June is Here," "When She Comes Home," "When the Frost Is on the Punkin," "Where-Away," and others.

Our presentation of these poems comes from The Works of James Whitcomb Riley (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"
"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"
"Little Mandy's Christmas Tree"
"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.

"At Broad Ripple" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

Ah, luxury! Beyond the heat
And dust of town, with dangling feet,
Astride the rock below the dam,
In the cool shadows where the calm
Rests on the stream again, and all
Is silent save the waterfall,--
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

No high ambition may I claim--
I angle not for lordly game
Of trout, or bass, or wary bream--
A black perch reaches the extreme
Of my desires; and "goggle-eyes"
Are not a thing that I despise;
A sunfish, or a "chub," or "cat"--
A "silverside"--yea, even that!

In eloquent tranquillity
The waters lisp and talk to me.
Sometimes, far out, the surface breaks,
As some proud bass an instant shakes
His glittering armor in the sun,
And romping ripples, one by one,
Come dallying across the space
Where undulates my smiling face.

The river's story flowing by,
Forever sweet to ear and eye,
Forever tenderly begun--
Forever new and never done.
Thus lulled and sheltered in a shade
Where never feverish cares invade,
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

"Away" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead.--He is just away!

With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,

And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.

And you--O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return,--

Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;

And loyal still, as he gave the blows
Of his warrior-strength to his country's foes.--

Mild and gentle, as he was brave,--
When the sweetest love of his life he gave

To simple things:--Where the violets grew
Blue as the eyes they were likened to,

The touches of his hands have strayed
As reverently as his lips have prayed:

When the little brown thrush that harshly chirred
Was dear to him as the mocking-bird;

And he pitied as much as a man in pain
A writhing honey-bee wet with rain.--

Think of him still as the same, I say:
He is not dead--he is just away!

"Babe Herrick" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

As a rosebud might, in dreams,
'Mid some lilies lie, meseems
Thou, pink youngling, on the breast
Of thy mother slumberest.

"Baby's Dying" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

Baby's dying,
Do not stir--
Let her spirit lightly float
Through the sighing
Lips of her--
Still the murmur in the throat;
Let the moan of grief be curbed--
Baby must not be disturbed!

Baby's dying,
Do not stir--
Let her pure life lightly swim
Through the sighing
Lips of her--
Out from us and up to HIM--
Let her leave us with that smile--
Kiss and miss her after while.

"Bedouin" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

O love is like an untamed steed!--
So hot of heart and wild of speed,
And with fierce freedom so in love,
The desert is not vast enough,
With all its leagues of glimmering sands,
To pasture it! Ah, that my hands
Were more than human in their strength,
That my deft lariat at length
Might safely noose this splendid thing
That so defies all conquering!
Ho! but to see it whirl and reel--
The sands spurt forward--and to feel
The quivering tension of the thong
That throned me high, with shriek and song!
To grapple tufts of tossing mane--
To spurn it to its feet again,
And then, sans saddle, rein or bit,
To lash the mad life out of it!

"The Boys' Candidate" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

LAS' time 'at Uncle Sidney come,
He bringed a watermelon home--
An' half the boys in town
Come taggin' after him.--An' he
Says, when we et it,--"Gracious me!
'S the boy-house fell down?"

"The Bumblebee" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

You better not fool with a Bumblebee!--
Ef you don't think they can sting--you'll see!
They're lazy to look at, an' kindo' go
Buzzin' an' bummin' aroun' so slow,
An' ac' so slouchy an' all fagged out,
Danglin' their legs as they drone about
The hollyhawks 'at they can't climb in
'Ithout ist a-tumble-un out ag'in!
Wunst I watched one climb clean 'way
In a jimson-blossom, I did, one day,--
An' I ist grabbed it--an' nen let go--
An' "Ooh-ooh! Honey! I told ye so!"
Says The Raggedy Man; an' he ist run
An' pullt out the stinger, an' don't laugh none,
An' says: "They has be'n folks, I guess,
'At thought I wuz predjudust, more er less,--
Yit I still muntain 'at a Bumblebee
Wears out his welcome too quick fer me!"

"By Her White Bed" by James Whitcomb Riley


by James Whitcomb Riley

By her white bed I muse a little space:
She fell asleep--not very long ago,--
And yet the grass was here and not the snow--
The leaf, the bud, the blossom, and--her face!--
Midsummer's heaven above us, and the grace
Of Love's own day, from dawn to afterglow;
The fireflies' glimmering, and the sweet and low
Plaint of the whippoorwills, and every place
In thicker twilight for the roses' scent.
Then night.--She slept--in such tranquility,
I walk atiptoe still, nor dare to weep,
Feeling, in all this hush, she rests content--
That though God stood to wake her for me, she
Would mutely plead: "Nay, Lord! Let him so sleep."

"Christmas Afterthought" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

After a thoughtful, almost painful pause,
Bub sighed, "I'm sorry fer old Santy Claus:--
They wuz no Santy Claus, ner couldn't be,
When he wuz ist a little boy like me!"

"The Days Gone By" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The apples in the orchard, and the pathway through the rye;
The chirrup of the robin, and the whistle of the quail
As he piped across the meadows sweet as any nightingale;
When the bloom was on the clover, and the blue was in the sky,
And my happy heart brimmed over, in the days gone by.

In the days gone by, when my naked feet were tripped
By the honeysuckle tangles where the water-lilies dipped,
And the ripples of the river lipped the moss along the brink
Where the placid-eyed and lazy-footed cattle came to drink,
And the tilting snipe stood fearless of the truant's wayward cry
And the splashing of the swimmer, in the days gone by.

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The music of the laughing lip, the lustre of the eye;
The childish faith in fairies, and Aladdin's magic ring--
The simple, soul-reposing, glad belief in everything,--
When life was like a story holding neither sob nor sigh,
In the golden olden glory of the days gone by.

"The Dead Wife" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

ALWAYS I see her in a saintly guise
Of lilied raiment, white as her own brow
When first I kissed the tear-drops to the eyes
That smile forever now.

Those gentle eyes! They seem the same to me,
As, looking through the warm dews of mine own,
I see them gazing downward patiently
Where, lost and all alone

In the great emptiness of night, I bow
And sob aloud for one returning touch
Of the dear hands that, Heaven having now,
I need so much--so much!

"Exceeding All" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Long life's a lovely thing to know,
With lovely health and wealth, forsooth,
And lovely name and fame--But O
The loveliness of Youth!

"A Fruit-Piece" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

The afternoon of summer folds
Its warm arms round the marigolds,

And, with its gleaming fingers, pets
The watered pinks and violets

That from the casement vases spill,
Over the cottage window-sill,

Their fragrance down the garden walks
Where droop the dry-mouthed hollyhocks.

How vividly the sunshine scrawls
The grape-vine shadows on the walls!

How like a truant swings the breeze
In high boughs of the apple-trees!

The slender "free-stone" lifts aloof,
Full languidly above the roof,

A hoard of fruitage, stamped with gold
And precious mintings manifold.

High up, through curled green leaves, a pear
Hangs hot with ripeness here and there.

Beneath the sagging trellisings,
In lush, lack-lustre clusterings,

Great torpid grapes, all fattened through
With moon and sunshine, shade and dew,

Until their swollen girths express
But forms of limp deliciousness--

Drugged to an indolence divine
With heaven's own sacramental wine.

"Her Beautiful Eyes" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

O her beautiful eyes! they are as blue as the dew
On the violet's bloom when the morning is new,
And the light of their love is the gleam of the sun
O'er the meadows of Spring where the quick shadows run:
As the morn shifts the mists and the clouds from the skies--
So I stand in the dawn of her beautiful eyes.

And her beautiful eyes are as mid-day to me,
When the lily-bell bends with the weight of the bee,
And the throat of the thrush is a-pulse in the heat,
And the senses are drugged with the subtle and sweet
And delirious breaths of the air's lullabies--
So I swoon in the noon of her beautiful eyes.

O her beautiful eyes! they have smitten mine own
As a glory glanced down from the glare of The Throne;
And I reel, and I falter and fall, as afar
Fell the shepherds that looked on the mystical Star,
And yet dazed in the tidings that bade them arise--
So I grope through the night of her beautiful eyes.

"His Mother" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

DEAD! my wayward boy--my own--
Not the Law's! but mine--the good
God's free gift to me alone,
Sanctified by motherhood.

"Bad," you say: Well, who is not?
"Brutal"--"with a heart of stone"--
And "red-handed."--Ah! the hot
Blood upon your own!

I come not, with downward eyes,
To plead for him shamedly,--
God did not apologize
When He gave the boy to me.

Simply, I make ready now
For His verdict.--You prepare--
You have killed us both--and how
Will you face us There!

"His Vigil" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Close the book and dim the light,
I shall read no more to-night.
No--I am not sleepy, dear--
Do not go: sit by me here
In the darkness and the deep
Silence of the watch I keep.
Something in your presence so
Soothes me--as in long ago
I first felt your hand--as now--
In the darkness touch my brow:
I've no other wish than you
Thus should fold mine eyelids to,
Saying nought of sigh or tear--
Just as God were sitting here.

"Home at Night" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

When chirping crickets fainter cry,
And pale stars blossom in the sky,
And twilight's gloom has dimmed the bloom
And blurred the butterfly:

When locust-blossoms fleck the walk,
And up the tiger-lily stalk
The glow-worm crawls and clings and falls
And glimmers down the garden-walls:

When buzzing things, with double wings
Of crisp and raspish flutterings,
Go whizzing by so very nigh
One thinks of fangs and stings:--

O then, within, is stilled the din
Of crib she rocks the baby in,
And heart and gate and latch's weight
Are lifted--and the lips of Kate.

"How it Happened" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

I got to thinkin' of her--both her parunts dead and gone--
And all her sisters married off, and none but her and John
A-livin' all alone thare in that lonesome sorto' way,
And him a blame old bachelor, confirmder ev'ry day!
I'd knowed 'em all from childern, and their daddy from the time
He settled in the neighborhood, and hadn't ary a dime
Er dollar, when he married, fer to start housekeepin' on!--
So I got to thinkin' of her--both her parunts dead and gone!

I got to thinkin' of her; and a-wundern what she done
That all her sisters kep' a-gittin' married, one by one,
And her without no chances--and the best girl of the pack--
A' old maid, with her hands, you might say, tied behind her back!
And Mother, too, afore she died, she ust to jest take on,
When none of 'em wuz left, you know, but Evaline and John,
And jest declare to goodness 'at the young men must be bline
To not see what a wife they'd git ef they got Evaline!

I got to thinkin' of her: In my great affliction she
Wuz sich a comfert to us, and so kind and neighborly,--
She'd come, and leave her housework, fer to he'p out little Jane,
And talk of her own mother 'at she'd never see again--
They'd sometimes cry together--though, fer the most part, she
Would have the child so rickonciled and happy-like 'at we
Felt lonesomer 'n ever when she'd put her bonnet on
And say she'd railly haf to be a-gittin' back to John!

I got to thinkin' of her, as I say,--and more and more
I'd think of her dependence, and the burdens 'at she bore,--
Her parunts both a-bein' dead, and all her sisters gone
And married off, and her a-livin' thare alone with John--
You might say jest a-toilin' and a-slavin' out her life
Fer a man 'at hadn't pride enough to git hisse'f a wife--
'Less some one married Evaline and packed her off some day!--
So I got to thinkin' of her--and it happened thataway.

"An Impetuous Resolve" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

When little Dickie Swope's a man,
He's go' to be a Sailor;
An' little Hamey Tincher, he's
A-go' to be a Tailor:
Bud Mitchell, he's a-go' to be
A stylish Carriage-Maker;
An' when I grow a grea'-big man,
I'm go' to be a Baker!

An' Dick'll buy his sailor-suit
O' Hame; an' Hame'll take it
An' buy as fine a double-rig
As ever Bud kin make it:
An' nen all three'll drive roun' fer me
An' we'll drive off togevver,
A-slingin' pie-crust 'long the road
Ferever an' ferever!

"In the Night" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

When it's night, and no light, too,
Wakin' by yourse'f,
With the old clock mockin' you
On the mantel-she'f;
In the dark--so still and black,
You're afeard you'll hear
Somepin' awful pop and crack,--
"Go to sleep, my dear!"

That's what Mother says.--And then's
When we ain't afeard!
Wunder, when we be big mens,
Then 'ul we be skeerd?--
Some night Mother's goned away,
And ist us is here,
Will The Good Man wake and say,
"Go to sleep, my dear"?

"Indiana" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Our Land--our Home!--the common home indeed
Of soil-born children and adopted ones--
The stately daughters and the stalwart sons
Of Industry:--All greeting and godspeed!
O home to proudly live for, and, if need
Be proudly die for, with the roar of guns
Blent with our latest prayer.--So died men once . . .
Lo, Peace! . . . As we look on the land THEY freed--
Its harvests all in ocean-overflow
Poured round autumnal coasts in billowy gold--
Its corn and wine and balmed fruits and flow'rs,--
We know the exaltation that they know
Who now, steadfast inheritors, behold
The Land Elysian, marvelling "This is ours!"

"John Brown" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Writ in between the lines of his life-deed
We trace the sacred service of a heart
Answering the Divine command, in every part
Bearing on human weal: His love did feed
The loveless; and his gentle hands did lead
The blind, and lift the weak, and balm the smart
Of other wounds than rankled at the dart
In his own breast, that gloried thus to bleed.
He served the lowliest first--nay, them alone--
The most despised that e'er wreaked vain breath
In cries of suppliance in the reign whereat
Red Guilt sate squat upon her spattered throne.--
For these doomed there it was he went to death.
God! how the merest man loves one like that!

"Judith" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

O her eyes are amber-fine--
Dark and deep as wells of wine,
While her smile is like the noon
Splendor of a day of June.
If she sorrow--lo! her face
It is like a flowery space
In bright meadows, overlaid
With light clouds and lulled with shade.
If she laugh--it is the trill
Of the wayward whippoorwill
Over upland pastures, heard
Echoed by the mocking-bird
In dim thickets dense with bloom
And blurred cloyings of perfume.
If she sigh--a zephyr swells
Over odorous asphodels
And wan lilies in lush plots
Of moon-drown'd forget-me-nots.
Then, the soft touch of her hand--
Takes all breath to understand
What to liken it thereto!--
Never rose-leaf rinsed with dew
Might slip soother-suave than slips
Her slow palm, the while her lips
Swoon through mine, with kiss on kiss
Sweet as heated honey is.

"Last Night--And This" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Last night--how deep the darkness was!
And well I knew its depths, because
I waded it from shore to shore,
Thinking to reach the light no more.

She would not even touch my hand.--
The winds rose and the cedars fanned
The moon out, and the stars fled back
In heaven and hid--and all was black!

But ah! To-night a summons came,
Signed with a tear-drop for a name,--
For as I wondering kissed it, lo,
A line beneath it told me so.

And now--the moon hangs over me
A disk of dazzling brilliancy,
And every star-tip stabs my sight
With splintered glitterings of light!

"Laughter Holding Both His Sides"

by James Whitcomb Riley

Ay, thou varlet! Laugh away!
All the world's a holiday!
Laugh away, and roar and shout
Till thy hoarse tongue lolleth out!
Bloat thy cheeks, and bulge thine eyes
Unto bursting; pelt thy thighs
With thy swollen palms, and roar
As thou never hast before!
Lustier! wilt thou! peal on peal!
Stiflest? Squat and grind thy heel--
Wrestle with thy loins, and then
Wheeze thee whiles, and whoop again!

"Lawyer and Child" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

How large was Alexander, father,
That parties designate
The historic gentleman as rather
Inordinately great?

Why, son, to speak with conscientious
Regard for history,
Waiving all claims, of course, to heights pretentious,--
About the size of me.

"Leedle Dutch Baby" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Leedle Dutch baby haff come ter town!
Jabber und jump till der day gone down--
Jabber und sphlutter und sphlit hees jaws--
Vot a Dutch baby dees Londsmon vas!
I dink dose mout' vas leedle too vide
Ober he laugh fon dot altso-side!
Haff got blenty off deemple und vrown?--
Hey! leedle Dutchman come ter town!

Leedle Dutch baby, I dink me proud
Ober your fader can schquall dot loud
Ven he vas leedle Dutch baby like you
Und yoost don't gare, like he alvays do!--
Guess ven dey vean him on beer, you bet
Dot's der because dot he aind veaned yet!--
Vot you said off he dringk you down?--
Hey! leedle Dutchman come ter town!

Leedle Dutch baby, yoost schquall avay--
Schquall fon preakfast till gisterday!
Better you all time gry und shout
Dan shmile me vonce fon der coffin out!
Vot I gare off you keek my nose
Downside-up mit your heels und toes--
Downside, oder der oopside-down?--
Hey! leedle Dutchman come ter town!

"The Legend Glorified" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

"I deem that God is not disquieted"--
This in a mighty poet's rhymes I read;
And blazoned so forever doth abide
Within my soul the legend glorified.

Though awful tempests thunder overhead,
I deem that God is not disquieted,--
The faith that trembles somewhat yet is sure
Through storm and darkness of a way secure.

Bleak winters, when the naked spirit hears
The break of hearts, through stinging sleet of tears,
I deem that God is not disquieted;
Against all stresses am I clothed and fed.

Nay, even with fixed eyes and broken breath,
My feet dip down into the tides of death,
Nor any friend be left, nor prayer be said,
I deem that God is not disquieted.

"Lines fer Isaac Bradwell . . ."

by James Whitcomb Riley

[Writ on the flyleaf of a volume of the author's poems that come in one of gittin' burnt up in the great Bowen-Merrill's fire of March 17, 1890.]

Through fire and flood this book has passed.--
Fer what?--I hardly dare to ast--
Less'n it's still to pamper me
With extry food fer vanity;--
Fer, sence it's fell in hands as true
As yourn is--and a Hoosier too,--
I'm prouder of the book, I jing!
Than 'fore they tried to burn the thing!

"The Little Tiny Kickshaw"

by James Whitcomb Riley

O the little tiny kickshaw that Mither sent tae me,
'Tis sweeter than the sugar-plum that reepens on the tree,
Wi' denty flavorin's o' spice an' musky rosemarie,
The little tiny kickshaw that Mither sent tae me.

'Tis luscious wi' the stalen tang o' fruits frae ower the sea,
An' e'en its fragrance gars me laugh wi' langin' lip an' ee,
Till a' its frazen sheen o' white maun melten hinnie be--
Sae weel I luve the kickshaw that Mither sent tae me.

O I luve the tiny kickshaw, an' I smack my lips wi' glee,
Aye mickle do I luve the taste o' sic a luxourie,
But maist I luve the luvein' han's that could the giftie gie
O' the little tiny kickshaw that Mither sent tae me.

"The Little Town o' Tailholt"

by James Whitcomb Riley

You kin boast about yer cities, and their stiddy growth and size,
And brag about yer County-seats, and business enterprise,
And railroads, and factories, and all sich foolery--
But the little Town o' Tailholt is big enough fer me!

You kin harp about yer churches, with their steeples in the clouds,
And gas about yer graded streets, and blow about yer crowds;
You kin talk about yer "theaters," and all you've got to see--
But the little Town o' Tailholt is show enough fer me!

They hain't no style in our town--hit's little-like and small--
They hain't no "churches," nuther,--jes' the meetin' house is all;
They's no sidewalks, to speak of--but the highway's allus free,
And the little Town o' Tailholt is wide enough fer me!

Some finds it discommodin'-like, I'm willin' to admit,
To hev but one post-office, and a womern keepin' hit,
And the drug-store, and shoe-shop, and grocery, all three--
But the little Town o' Tailholt is handy 'nough fer me!

You kin smile and turn yer nose up, and joke and hev yer fun,
And laugh and holler "Tail-holts is better holts'n none!"
Ef the city suits you better, w'y, hit's where you'd ort'o be--
But the little Town o' Tailholt's good enough fer me!

"Lockerbie Street" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Such a dear little street it is, nestled away
From the noise of the city and heat of the day,
In cool shady coverts of whispering trees,
With their leaves lifted up to shake hands with the breeze
Which in all its wide wanderings never may meet
With a resting-place fairer than Lockerbie street!

There is such a relief, from the clangor and din
Of the heart of the town, to go loitering in
Through the dim, narrow walks, with the sheltering shade
Of the trees waving over the long promenade,
And littering lightly the ways of our feet
With the gold of the sunshine of Lockerbie street.

And the nights that come down the dark pathways of dusk,
With the stars in their tresses, and odors of musk
In their moon-woven raiments, bespangled with dews,
And looped up with lilies for lovers to use
In the songs that they sing to the tinkle and beat
Of their sweet serenadings through Lockerbie street.

O my Lockerbie street! You are fair to be seen--
Be it noon of the day, or the rare and serene
Afternoon of the night--you are one to my heart,
And I love you above all the phrases of art,
For no language could frame and no lips could repeat
My rhyme-haunted raptures of Lockerbie street.

"Longfellow's Love for the Children"

by James Whitcomb Riley

Awake, he loved their voices,
And wove them into his rhyme;
And the music of their laughter
Was with him all the time.

Though he knew the tongues of nations,
And their meanings all were dear,
The prattle and lisp of a little child
Was the sweetest for him to hear.

"Mother Goose" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Dear Mother Goose! most motherly and dear
Of all good mothers who have laps wherein
We children nestle safest from all sin,--
I cuddle to thy bosom, with no fear
To there confess that though thy cap be queer,
And thy curls gimlety, and thy cheeks thin,
And though the winkered mole upon thy chin
Tickles thy very nose-tip,--still to hear
The jolly jingles of mine infancy
Crooned by thee, makes mine eager arms, as now,
To twine about thy neck, full tenderly
Drawing the dear old face down, that thy brow
May dip into my purest kiss, and be
Crowned ever with the baby-love of me.

"My Friend" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

"He is my friend," I said,--
"Be patient!" Overhead
The skies were drear and dim;
And lo! the thought of him
Smited on my heart--and then
The sun shone out again!

"He is my friend!" The words
Brought summer and the birds;
And all my winter-time
Thawed into running rhyme
And rippled into song,
Warm, tender, brave, and strong.

And so it sings to-day.--
So may it sing alway!
Though waving grasses grow
Between, and lilies blow
Their trills of perfume clear
As laughter to the ear,
Let each mute measure end
With "Still he is thy friend."

"Naughty Claude" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

When Little Claude was naughty wunst
At dinner-time, an' said
He won't say "Thank you" to his Ma,
She maked him go to bed
An' stay two hours an' not git up,--
So when the clock struck Two,
Nen Claude says,--"Thank you, Mr. Clock,
I'm much obleeged to you!"

"Nothin' to Say" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!
Gyrls that's in love, I've noticed, ginerly has their way!
Yer mother did, afore you, when her folks objected to me--
Yit here I am and here you air! and yer mother--where is she?

You look lots like yer mother: Purty much same in size;
And about the same complected; and favor about the eyes:
Like her, too, about livin' here,--because she couldn't stay:
It'll 'most seem like you was dead like her!--but I hain't got nothin' to say!

She left you her little Bible--writ yer name acrost the page--
And left her earbobs fer you, ef ever you come of age.
I've allus kep' 'em and gyuarded 'em, but ef yer goin' away--
Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!

You don't rikollect her, I reckon? No; you wasn't a year old then!
And now yer--how old air you? W'y, child, not "twenty!" When?
And yer nex' birthday's in Aprile? and you want to git married that day?
I wisht yer mother was livin'!--but I hain't got nothin' to say!

Twenty year! and as good a gyrl as parent ever found!
There's a straw ketched onto yer dress there--I'll bresh it off--turn round.
(Her mother was jest twenty when us two run away.)
Nothin' to say, my daughter! Nothin' at all to say!

"Old Chums" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

"If I die first," my old chum paused to say,
"Mind! not a whimper of regret;--instead,
Laugh and be glad, as I shall.--Being dead,
I shall not lodge so very far away
But that our mirth shall mingle.--So, the day
The word comes, joy with me." "I'll try," I said,
Though, even speaking, sighed and shook my head
And turned, with misted eyes. His roundelay
Rang gayly on the stair; and then the door
Opened and--closed. . . . Yet something of the clear,
Hale hope, and force of wholesome faith he had,
Abided with me--strengthened more and more.--
Then--then they brought his broken body here:
And I laughed--whisperingly--and we were glad.

"The Old Tramp" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

A' Old Tramp slep' in our stable wunst,
An' The Raggedy Man he caught
An' roust him up, an' chased him off
Clean out through our back lot!

An' th' Old Tramp hollered back an' said,--
"You're a purty man!--You air!--
With a pair o' eyes like two fried eggs,
An' a nose like a Bartlutt pear!"

"On a Dead Babe" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

FLY away! thou heavenly one!--
I do hail thee on thy flight!
Sorrow? thou hath tasted none--
Perfect joy is yourn by right.
Fly away! and bear our love
To thy kith and kin above!

I can tetch thy finger-tips
Ca'mly, and bresh back the hair
From thy forr'ed with my lips,
And not leave a teardrop thare.--
Weep fer Tomps and Ruth--and me--
But I cannot weep fer thee.

"On a Splendud Match"

by James Whitcomb Riley

[On the night of the marraige of the foregoin' couple,
which shall be nameless here, these lines was ca'mly
dashed off in the albun of the happy bride whilse the
shivver-ree was goin' on outside the residence.]

He was warned aginst the womern--
She was warned aginst the man.--
And ef that won't make a weddin',
W'y, they's nothin' else that can!

"On Any Ordenary Man"

by James Whitcomb Riley

As it's give' me to percieve,
I most certin'y believe
When a man's jest glad plum through,
God's pleased with him, same as you.

"Pansies" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Pansies! Pansies! How I love you, pansies!
Jaunty-faced, laughing-lipped and dewy-eyed with glee;
Would my song but blossom in little five-leaf stanzas
As delicate in fancies
As your beauty is to me!

But my eyes shall smile on you, and my hands infold you,
Pet, caress, and lift you to the lips that love you so,
That, shut ever in the years that may mildew or mould you,
My fancy shall behold you
Fair as in the long ago.

"The Prayer Perfect" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Dear Lord! kind Lord!
Gracious Lord! I pray
Thou wilt look on all I love
Tenderly to-day!
Weed their hearts of weariness;
Scatter every care
Down a wake of angel-wings
Winnowing the air.

Bring unto the sorrowing
All release from pain;
Let the lips of laughter
Overflow again;
And with all the needy
O divide, I pray,
This vast treasure of content
That is mine to-day!

"The Ripest Peach" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

The ripest peach is highest on the tree--
And so her love, beyond the reach of me,
Is dearest in my sight. Sweet breezes bow
Her heart down to me where I worship now!

She looms aloft where every eye may see
The ripest peach is highest on the tree.
Such fruitage as her love I know, alas!
I may not reach here from the orchard grass.

I drink the sunshine showered past her lips
As roses drain the dewdrop as it drips.
The ripest peach is highest on the tree,
And so mine eyes gaze upward eagerly.

Why--why do I not turn away in wrath
And pluck some heart here hanging in my path?--
Love's lower boughs bend with them--but, ah me!
The ripest peach is highest on the tree!

"Silence" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Thousands and thousands of hushed years ago,
Out on the edge of Chaos, all alone
I stood on peaks of vapor, high upthrown
Above a sea that knew nor ebb nor flow,
Nor any motion won of winds that blow,
Nor any sound of watery wail or moan,
Nor lisp of wave, nor wandering undertone
Of any tide lost in the night below.
So still it was, I mind me, as I laid
My thirsty ear against mine own faint sigh
To drink of that, I sipped it, half afraid
'Twas but the ghost of a dead voice spilled by
The one starved star that tottered through the shade
And came tiptoeing toward me down the sky.

"Sister Jones's Confession"

by James Whitcomb Riley

I thought the deacon liked me, yit
I warn't adzackly shore of it--
Fer, mind ye, time and time ag'in,
When jiners 'ud be comin' in,
I'd seed him shakin' hands as free
With all the sistern as with me!
But jurin' last Revival, where
He called on me to lead in prayer,
An' kneeled there with me, side by side,
A-whisper'n' "he felt sanctified
Jes' tetchin' of my gyarment's hem,"--
That settled things as fur as them-
Thare other wimmin was concerned!--
And--well!--I know I must 'a' turned
A dozen colors!--Flurried?--la!--
No mortal sinner never saw
A gladder widder than the one
A-kneelin' there and wonderun'
Who'd pray'--So glad, upon my word,
I railly couldn't thank the Lord!

"The Sphinx" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

I know all about the Sphinx--
I know even what she thinks,
Staring with her stony eyes
Up forever at the skies.

For last night I dreamed that she
Told me all the mystery--
Why for aeons mute she sat:--
She was just cut out for that!

"To Hattie--On Her Birthday"

Written in "A Child's Garden of Verses"

When your "Uncle Jim" was younger,
In the days of childish hunger
For the honey of such verses
As this little book rehearses
In such sweet simplicity,--
Just the simple gift that this is
Would have brimmed his heart with blisses
Sweet as Hattie's sweetest kisses,
On her anniversary.

"The Train-Misser" by James Whitcomb Riley

At Union Station

by James Whitcomb Riley

'Ll where in the world my eyes has bin--
Ef I hain't missed that train ag'in!
Chuff! and whistle! and toot! and ring!
But blast and blister the dasted train!--
How it does it I can't explain!
Git here thirty-five minutes before
The durn things due!-- and, drat the thing!
It'll manage to git past--shore!

The more I travel around, the more
I got no sense!-- To stand right here
And let it beat me! 'Ll ding my melts!
I got no gumption, ner nothin' else!
Ticket Agent's a dad-burned bore!--
Sell you a ticket's all they keer!--
Ticket Agents ort to all be

Prosecuted-- and that's jes what!--
How'd I know which train's fer me?
And how'd I know which train was not?--
Goern and comin' and gone astray,
And backin' and switchin' ever'-which-way!

Ef I could jes sneak round behind
Myse'f, where I could git full swing,
I'd lift my coat, and kick, by jing!
Till I jes got jerked up and fined!--
Fer here I stood, as a durn fool's apt
To, and let that train jes chuff and choo
Right apast me--and mouth jes gapped
Like a blamed old sandwitch warped in two!

"The Truly Marvellous" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

Giunts is the biggest mens they air
In all this world er anywhere!--
An' Tom Thumb he's the most little-est man,
'Cause wunst he lived in a oyshture-can!

"Uncle Sidney" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

SOMETIMES, when I bin bad,
An' Pa "currecks" me nen,
An' Uncle Sidney he comes here,
I'm allus good again;

'Cause Uncle Sidney says,
An' takes me up an smiles,--
The goodest mens they is ain't good
As baddest little childs!

"Wait for the Morning"

by James Whitcomb Riley

Wait for the morning:--It will come, indeed,
As surely as the night hath given need.
The yearning eyes, at last, will strain their sight
No more unanswered by the morning light;
No longer will they vainly strive, through tears,
To pierce the darkness of thy doubts and fears,
But, bathed in balmy dews and rays of dawn,
Will smile with rapture o'er the darkness drawn.

Wait for the morning, O thou smitten child,
Scorned, scourged and persecuted and reviled--
Athirst and famishing, none pitying thee,
Crowned with the twisted thorns of agony--
No faintest gleam of sunlight through the dense
Infinity of gloom to lead thee thence.--
Wait for the morning:--It will come, indeed,
As surely as the night hath given need.

"The Way the Baby Came"

by James Whitcomb Riley

O THIS is the way the baby came:
Out of the night as comes the dawn;
Out of the embers as the flame;
Out of the bud the blossom on
The apple-bough that blooms the same
As in glad summers dead and gone--
With a grace and beauty none could name--
O this is the way the baby came!

"The Way the Baby Slept"

by James Whitcomb Riley

This is the way the baby slept:
A mist of tresses backward thrown
By quavering sighs where kisses crept
With yearnings she had never known:
The little hands were closely kept
About a lily newly blown--
And God was with her. And we wept.--
And this is the way the baby slept.

"The Way the Baby Woke"

by James Whitcomb Riley

And this is the way the baby woke:
As when in deepest drops of dew
The shine and shadows sink and soak,
The sweet eyes glimmered through and through;
And eddyings and dimples broke
About the lips, and no one knew
Or could divine the words they spoke--
And this is the way the baby woke.

"When June is Here"

by James Whitcomb Riley

When June is here--what art have we to sing
The whiteness of the lilies 'midst the green
Of noon-tranced lawns? Or flash of roses seen
Like redbirds' wings? Or earliest ripening
Prince-Harvest apples, where the cloyed bees cling
Round winy juices oozing down between
The peckings of the robin, while we lean
In under-grasses, lost in marvelling;
Or the cool term of morning, and the stir
Of odorous breaths from wood and meadow walks;
The bobwhite's liquid yodel, and the whir
Of sudden flight; and, where the milkmaid talks
Across the bars, on tilted barley-stalks
The dewdrops' glint in webs of gossamer.

"When Our Baby Died"

by James Whitcomb Riley

When our baby died--
My Ma she ist cried an' cried!
Yes 'n' my Pa he cried, too--
An' I cried--An' me an' you.--
An' I 'tended like my doll
She cried too--An' ever'--all--
O ist ever'body cried
When our baby died!

When our baby died--
Nen I got to took a ride!
An' we all ist rode an' rode
Clean to Heav'n where baby goed--
Mighty nigh!--An' nen Ma she
Cried ag'in--an' Pa--an' me.--
All but ist the Angels cried
When our baby died!

"When She Comes Home"

by James Whitcomb Riley

When she comes home again! A thousand ways
I fashion, to myself, the tenderness
Of my glad welcome: I shall tremble--yes;
And touch her, as when first in the old days
I touched her girlish hand, nor dared upraise
Mine eyes, such was my faint heart's sweet distress.
Then silence: and the perfume of her dress:
The room will sway a little, and a haze
Cloy eyesight--soulsight, even--for a space;
And tears--yes; and the ache here in the throat,
To know that I so ill deserve the place
Her arms make for me; and the sobbing note
I stay with kisses, ere the tearful face
Again is hidden in the old embrace.

"When the Frost Is on the Punkin"

by James Whitcomb Riley

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallelooyer as he tiptoes on the fence,
Oh, it's then's the time a feller is a feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of gracious rest,
As he leaves the house bareheaded and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

There's sompin kind o' hearty-like about the atmosphere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here.
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and the buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin', and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the early autumn days
Is a picture that no painter has the colorin' to mock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty rustle of the tassels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries--kind o' lonesome like, but still
A preachin' sermons to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The straw-stack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed,
The hosses in their stalls below, the clover overhead,--
Oh, it sets my heart a clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

"Where-Away" by James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

O the Lands of Where-Away!
Tell us--tell us--where are they?
Through the darkness and the dawn
We have journeyed on and on--
From the cradle to the cross--
From possession unto loss.--
Seeking still, from day to day,
For the lands of Where-Away.

When our baby-feet were first
Planted where the daisies burst,
And the greenest grasses grew
In the fields we wandered through,--
On, with childish discontent,
Ever on and on we went,
Hoping still to pass, some day,
O'er the verge of Where-Away.

Roses laid their velvet lips
On our own, with fragrant sips;
But their kisses held us not,
All their sweetness we forgot;--
Though the brambles in our track
Plucked at us to hold us back--
"Just ahead," we used to say,
"Lie the Lands of Where-Away."

Children at the pasture-bars,
Through the dusk, like glimmering stars,
Waved their hands that we should bide
With them over eventide:
Down the dark their voices failed
Falteringly, as they hailed,
And died into yesterday--
Night ahead and--Where-Away?

Twining arms about us thrown--
Warm caresses, all our own,
Can but stay us for a spell--
Love hath little new to tell
To the soul in need supreme,
Aching ever with the dream
Of the endless bliss it may
Find in Lands of Where-Away!

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