James Whitcomb Riley


(From a Westerner's Point of View.)

No matter what you call it,
  Whether genius, or art,
He sings the simple songs that come
  The closest to your heart.
Fur trim an' skillful phrases,
  I do not keer a jot;
'Tain't the words alone, but feelin's,
  That tech the tender spot.
An' that's jest why I love him,—
  Why, he's got sech human feelin',
An' in ev'ry song he gives us,
  You kin see it creepin', stealin',
Through the core the tears go tricklin',
  But the edge is bright an' smiley;
I never saw a poet
  Like that poet Whitcomb Riley.

His heart keeps beatin' time with our'n
  In measures fast or slow;
He tells us jest the same ol' things
  Our souls have learned to know.
He paints our joys an' sorrers
  In a way so stric'ly true,
That a body can't help knowin'
  That he has felt them too.
If there's a lesson to be taught,
  He never fears to teach it,
An' he puts the food so good an' low
  That the humblest one kin reach it.
Now in our time, when poets rhyme
  For money, fun, or fashion,
'Tis good to hear one voice so clear
  That thrills with honest passion.
So let the others build their songs,
  An' strive to polish highly,—
There's none of them kin tech the heart
  Like our own Whitcomb Riley.

Little Orphant Annie (1885)Edit

"Little Orphant Annie" (help | file info or download)
Little Orphant Annie
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you
Ef you
Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you
An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
Ef you

This work was published before January 1, 1925, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.