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[Illustration]

RILEY LOVE-LYRICS

[Illustration]

RILEY LOVE-LYRICS

JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY


ILLUSTRATED BY WILL VAWTER



INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS



Copyright, 1883, 1887, 1888, 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894, 1897, 1898, 1901,
1905 by James Whitcomb Riley.

Copyright 1921, The Bobbs-Merrill Company


_Printed in the United States of America_


PRESS OF
BRAUNWORTH & CO.
BOOK MANUFACTURERS
BROOKLYN, N.Y.

INSCRIBED

TO THE ELECT OF LOVE, - OR SIDE-BY-SIDE
IN RAPTEST ECSTASY, OR SUNDERED WIDE
BY SEAS THAT BEAR NO MESSAGE TO OR FRO
BETWEEN THE LOVED AND LOST OF LONG AGO.



_So were I but a minstrel, deft
At weaving, with the trembling strings
Of my glad harp, the warp and weft
Of rondels such as rapture sings, -
I'd loop my lyre across my breast,
Nor stay me till my knee found rest
In midnight banks of bud and flower
Beneath my lady's lattice-bower.

And there, drenched with the teary dews,
I'd woo her with such wondrous art
As well might stanch the songs that ooze
Out of the mockbird's breaking heart;
So light, so tender, and so sweet
Should be the words I would repeat,
Her casement, on my gradual sight,
Would blossom as a lily might._


[Illustration]

[Illustration]


CONTENTS

BLOOMS OF MAY 185
DISCOURAGING MODEL, A 132
"DREAM" 41
FARMER WHIFFLE - BACHELOR 161
HAS SHE FORGOTTEN? 183
HE AND I 79
HE CALLED HER IN 45
HER BEAUTIFUL EYES 56
HER FACE AND BROW 55
HER HAIR 129
HER WAITING FACE 67
HOME AT NIGHT 122
HOW IT HAPPENED 93
IKE WALTON'S PRAYER 107
ILLILEO 113
JUDITH 75
LAST NIGHT AND THIS 130
LEONAINIE 63
LET US FORGET 60
LOST PATH, THE 83
MY BRIDE THAT IS TO BE 87
MY MARY 117
NOTHIN' TO SAY 103
OLD PLAYED-OUT SONG, A' 26
OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE, AN 17
OLD YEAR AND THE NEW, THE 68
OUT-WORN SAPPHO, AN 32
PASSING OF A HEART, THE 39
RIVAL, THE 137
ROSE, THE 177
SERMON OF THE ROSE, THE 189
SUSPENSE 136
THEIR SWEET SORROW 72
TO HEAR HER SING 149
TOM VAN ARDEN 138
TOUCHES OF HER HANDS, THE 159
VARIATION, A 151
VERY YOUTHFUL AFFAIR, A 31
WHEN AGE COMES ON 180
WHEN LIDE MARRIED _HIM_ 125
WHEN MY DREAMS COME TRUE 98
WHEN SHE COMES HOME 59
WHERE SHALL WE LAND? 156
WIFE-BLESSÉD, THE 115




RILEY LOVE-LYRICS

[Illustration]



AN OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE

As one who cons at evening o'er an album all alone,
And muses on the faces of the friends that he has known,
So I turn the leaves of fancy till, in shadowy design,
I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine.

The lamplight seems to glimmer with a flicker of surprise,
As I turn it low to rest me of the dazzle in my eyes,
And light my pipe in silence, save a sigh that seems to yoke
Its fate with my tobacco and to vanish with the smoke.

Tis a fragrant retrospection - for the loving thoughts that start
Into being are like perfume from the blossom of the heart;
And to dream the old dreams over is a luxury divine -
When my truant fancy wanders with that old sweetheart of mine.

Though I hear, beneath my study, like a fluttering of wings,
The voices of my children, and the mother as she sings,
I feel no twinge of conscience to deny me any theme
When Care has cast her anchor in the harbor of a dream.


[Illustration]


In fact, to speak in earnest, I believe it adds a charm
To spice the good a trifle with a little dust of harm -
For I find an extra flavor in Memory's mellow wine
That makes me drink the deeper to that old sweetheart of mine.

A face of lily-beauty, with a form of airy grace.
Floats out of my tobacco as the genii from the vase;
And I thrill beneath the glances of a pair of azure eyes
As glowing as the summer and as tender as the skies.

I can see the pink sunbonnet and the little checkered dress
She wore when first I kissed her and she answered the caress
With the written declaration that, "as surely as the vine
Grew round the stump," she loved me - that old sweetheart of mine.

And again I feel the pressure of her slender little hand,
As we used to talk together of the future we had planned -
When I should be a poet, and with nothing else to do
But write the tender verses that she set the music to:

When we should live together in a cozy little cot
Hid in a nest of roses, with a fairy garden-spot,
Where the vines were ever fruited, and the weather ever fine,
And the birds were ever singing for that old sweetheart of mine:

When I should be her lover forever and a day,
And she my faithful sweetheart till the golden hair was gray;
And we should be so happy that when either's lips were dumb
They would not smile in Heaven till the other's kiss had come.


[Illustration]



AN OLD SWEETHEART OF MINE

But, ah! my dream is broken by a step upon the stair,
And the door is softly opened, and - my wife is standing there;
Yet with eagerness and rapture all my visions I resign
To greet the living presence of that old sweetheart of mine.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]



A' OLD PLAYED-OUT SONG

It's the curiousest thing in creation,
Whenever I hear that old song
"Do They Miss Me at Home," I'm so bothered,
My life seems as short as it's long! -
Fer ev'rything 'pears like adzackly
It 'peared in the years past and gone, -
When I started out sparkin', at twenty,
And had my first neckercher on!

Though I'm wrinkelder, older and grayer
Right now than my parents was then,
You strike up that song "Do They Miss Me,"
And I'm jest a youngster again! -
I'm a-standin' back thare in the furries
A-wishin' fer evening to come,
And a-whisperin' over and over
Them words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"


[Illustration]


You see, _Marthy Ellen she_ sung it
The first time I heerd it; and so,
As she was my very first sweetheart,
It reminds me of her, don't you know; -
How her face used to look, in the twilight,
As I tuck her to Spellin'; and she
Kep' a-hummin' that song tel I ast her,
Pint-blank, ef she ever missed _me!_

I can shet my eyes now, as you sing it,
And hear her low answerin' words;
And then the glad chirp of the crickets,
As clear as the twitter of birds;
And the dust in the road is like velvet,
And the ragweed and fennel and grass
Is as sweet as the scent of the lilies
Of Eden of old, as we pass.

"_Do They Miss Me at Home_?" Sing it lower -
And softer - and sweet as the breeze
That powdered our path with the snowy
White bloom of the old locus'-trees!
Let the whipperwills he'p you to sing it,
And the echoes 'way over the hill,
Tel the moon boolges out, in a chorus
Of stars, and our voices is still.

But oh! "They's a chord in the music
That's missed when _her_ voice is away!"
Though I listen from midnight tel morning,
And dawn tel the dusk of the day!
And I grope through the dark, lookin' upwards
And on through the heavenly dome,
With my longin' soul singin' and sobbin'
The words "Do They Miss Me at Home?"


[Illustration]



A VERY YOUTHFUL AFFAIR

I'm bin a-visitun 'bout a week
To my little Cousin's at Nameless Creek,
An' I'm got the hives an' a new straw hat,
An' I'm come back home where my beau lives at.


[Illustration]



AN OUT-WORN SAPPHO

How tired I am! I sink down all alone
Here by the wayside of the Present. Lo,
Even as a child I hide my face and moan -
A little girl that may no farther go;
The path above me only seems to grow
More rugged, climbing still, and ever briered
With keener thorns of pain than these below;
And O the bleeding feet that falter so
And are so very tired!

Why, I have journeyed from the far-off Lands
Of Babyhood - where baby-lilies blew
Their trumpets in mine ears, and filled my hands
With treasures of perfume and honey-dew,
And where the orchard shadows ever drew
Their cool arms round me when my cheeks were fired
With too much joy, and lulled mine eyelids to,
And only let the starshine trickle through
In sprays, when I was tired!

Yet I remember, when the butterfly
Went flickering about me like a flame
That quenched itself in roses suddenly,
How oft I wished that _I_ might blaze the same,
And in some rose-wreath nestle with my name,
While all the world looked on it and admired. -
Poor moth! - Along my wavering flight toward fame
The winds drive backward, and my wings are lame
And broken, bruised and tired!

I hardly know the path from those old times;
I know at first it was a smoother one
Than this that hurries past me now, and climbs
So high, its far cliffs even hide the sun
And shroud in gloom my journey scarce begun.
I could not do quite all the world required -
I could not do quite all I should have done,
And in my eagerness I have outrun
My strength - and I am tired....

Just tired! But when of old I had the stay
Of mother-hands, O very sweet indeed
It was to dream that all the weary way
I should but follow where I now must lead -
For long ago they left me in my need,
And, groping on alone, I tripped and mired
Among rank grasses where the serpents breed
In knotted coils about the feet of speed. -
There first it was I tired.

And yet I staggered on, and bore my load
Right gallantly: The sun, in summer-time,
In lazy belts came slipping down the road
To woo me on, with many a glimmering rhyme
Rained from the golden rim of some fair clime,
That, hovering beyond the clouds, inspired
My failing heart with fancies so sublime
I half forgot my path of dust and grime,
Though I was growing tired.

And there were many voices cheering me:
I listened to sweet praises where the wind
Went laughing o'er my shoulders gleefully
And scattering my love-songs far behind; -
Until, at last, I thought the world so kind -
So rich in all my yearning soul desired -
So generous - so loyally inclined,
I grew to love and trust it.... I was blind -
Yea, blind as I was tired!


[Illustration]


And yet one hand held me in creature-touch:
And O, how fair it was, how true and strong,
How it did hold my heart up like a crutch,
Till, in my dreams, I joyed to walk along
The toilsome way, contented with a song -
'Twas all of earthly things I had acquired,
And 'twas enough, I feigned, or right or wrong,
Since, binding me to man - a mortal thong -
It stayed me, growing tired....

Yea, I had e'en resigned me to the strait
Of earthly rulership - had bowed my head
Acceptant of the master-mind - the great
One lover - lord of all, - the perfected
Kiss-comrade of my soul; - had stammering said
My prayers to him; - all - all that he desired
I rendered sacredly as we were wed. -
Nay - nay! - 'twas but a myth I worshippéd. -
And - God of love! - how tired!

For, O my friends, to lose the latest grasp -
To feel the last hope slipping from its hold -
To feel the one fond hand within your clasp
Fall slack, and loosen with a touch so cold
Its pressure may not warm you as of old
Before the light of love had thus expired -
To know your tears are worthless, though they rolled
Their torrents out in molten drops of gold. -
God's pity! I am tired!

And I must rest. - Yet do not say "She _died_,"
In speaking of me, sleeping here alone.
I kiss the grassy grave I sink beside,
And close mine eyes in slumber all mine own:
Hereafter I shall neither sob nor moan
Nor murmur one complaint; - all I desired,
And failed in life to find, will now be known -
So let me dream. Good night! And on the stone
Say simply: She was tired.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]



THE PASSING OF A HEART

O touch me with your hands -
For pity's sake!
My brow throbs ever on with such an ache
As only your cool touch may take away;
And so, I pray
You, touch me with your hands!

Touch - touch me with your hands. -
Smooth back the hair
You once caressed, and kissed, and called so fair
That I did dream its gold would wear alway,
And lo, to-day -
O touch me with your hands!

Just touch me with your hands,
And let them press
My weary eyelids with the old caress,
And lull me till I sleep. Then go your way,
That Death may say:
He touched her with his hands.


[Illustration]

[Illustration]



"DREAM"

Because her eyes were far too deep
And holy for a laugh to leap
Across the brink where sorrow tried
To drown within the amber tide;
Because the looks, whose ripples kissed
The trembling lids through tender mist,
Were dazzled with a radiant gleam -
Because of this I call her "Dream."

Because the roses growing wild
About her features when she smiled
Were ever dewed with tears that fell
With tenderness ineffable;
Because her lips might spill a kiss
That, dripping in a world like this,
Would tincture death's myrrh-bitter stream
To sweetness - so I called her "Dream."

Because I could not understand
The magic touches of a hand
That seemed, beneath her strange control,
To smooth the plumage of the soul
And calm it, till, with folded wings,
It half forgot its flutterings,
And, nestled in her palm, did seem
To trill a song that called her "Dream."

Because I saw her, in a sleep
As dark and desolate and deep
And fleeting as the taunting night
That flings a vision of delight
To some lorn martyr as he lies
In slumber ere the day he dies -
Because she vanished like a gleam
Of glory, do I call her "Dream."


[Illustration]

[Illustration]

[Illustration]



HE CALLED HER IN

I

He called her in from me and shut the door.
And she so loved the sunshine and the sky! -
She loved them even better yet than I
That ne'er knew dearth of them - my mother dead,
Nature had nursed me in her lap instead:
And I had grown a dark and eerie child
That rarely smiled,
Save when, shut all alone in grasses high,
Looking straight up in God's great lonesome sky
And coaxing Mother to smile back on me.
'Twas lying thus, this fair girl suddenly
Came to me, nestled in the fields beside
A pleasant-seeming home, with doorway wide -
The sunshine beating in upon the floor
Like golden rain. -
O sweet, sweet face above me, turn again
And leave me! I had cried, but that an ache
Within my throat so gripped it I could make
No sound but a thick sobbing. Cowering so,
I felt her light hand laid
Upon my hair - a touch that ne'er before
Had tamed me thus, all soothed and unafraid -
It seemed the touch the children used to know
When Christ was here, so dear it was - so dear, -
At once I loved her as the leaves love dew
In midmost summer when the days are new.
Barely an hour I knew her, yet a curl
Of silken sunshine did she clip for me
Out of the bright May-morning of her hair,
And bound and gave it to me laughingly,
And caught my hands and called me _"Little girl,"_
Tiptoeing, as she spoke, to kiss me there!
And I stood dazed and dumb for very stress
Of my great happiness.
She plucked me by the gown, nor saw how mean
The raiment - drew me with her everywhere:
Smothered her face in tufts of grasses green:
Put up her dainty hands and peeped between


[Illustration]


Her fingers at the blossoms - crooned and talked
To them in strange, glad whispers, as we walked, -
Said _this_ one was her angel mother - _this_,
Her baby-sister - come back, for a kiss,
Clean from the Good-World! - smiled and kissed them, then
Closed her soft eyes and kissed them o'er again.
And so did she beguile me - so we played, -
She was the dazzling Shine - I, the dark Shade -
And we did mingle like to these, and thus,
Together, made
The perfect summer, pure and glorious.
So blent we, till a harsh voice broke upon
Our happiness. - She, startled as a fawn,
Cried, "Oh, 'tis Father!" - all the blossoms gone
From out her cheeks as those from out her grasp. -
Harsher the voice came: - She could only gasp
Affrightedly, "Good-bye! - good-bye! good-bye!"
And lo, I stood alone, with that harsh cry
Ringing a new and unknown sense of shame
Through soul and frame,
And, with wet eyes, repeating o'er and o'er, -
"He called her in from me and shut the door!"

II

He called her in from me and shut the door!
And I went wandering alone again -
So lonely - O so very lonely then,
I thought no little sallow star, alone
In all a world of twilight, e'er had known
Such utter loneliness. But that I wore
Above my heart that gleaming tress of hair
To lighten up the night of my despair,
I think I might have groped into my grave
Nor cared to wave
The ferns above it with a breath of prayer.
And how I hungered for the sweet, sweet face
That bent above me in my hiding-place
That day amid the grasses there beside
Her pleasant home! - "Her _pleasant_ home!" I sighed,
Remembering; - then shut my teeth and feigned
The harsh voice calling _me_, - then clinched my nails
So deeply in my palms, the sharp wounds pained,
And tossed my face toward heaven, as one who pales
In splendid martrydom, with soul serene,
As near to God as high the guillotine.


[Illustration]


And I had _envied_ her? Not that - O no!
But I had longed for some sweet haven so! -
Wherein the tempest-beaten heart might ride
Sometimes at peaceful anchor, and abide
Where those that loved me touched me with their hands,
And looked upon me with glad eyes, and slipped
Smooth fingers o'er my brow, and lulled the strands
Of my wild tresses, as they backward tipped
My yearning face and kissed it satisfied.
Then bitterly I murmured as before, -
"He called her in from me and shut the door!"


III

He called her in from me and shut the door!
After long struggling with my pride and pain -
A weary while it seemed, in which the more
I held myself from her, the greater fain
Was I to look upon her face again; -
At last - at last - half conscious where my feet
Were faring, I stood waist-deep in the sweet
Green grasses there where she
First came to me. -
The very blossoms she had plucked that day,
And, at her father's voice, had cast away,
Around me lay,
Still bright and blooming in these eyes of mine;
And as I gathered each one eagerly,
I pressed it to my lips and drank the wine
Her kisses left there for the honey-bee.
Then, after I had laid them with the tress
Of her bright hair with lingering tenderness,
I, turning, crept on to the hedge that bound
Her pleasant-seeming home - but all around
Was never sign of her! - The windows all
Were blinded; and I heard no rippling fall
Of her glad laugh, nor any harsh voice call; -
But clutching to the tangled grasses, caught
A sound as though a strong man bowed his head
And sobbed alone - unloved - uncomforted! -
And then straightway before
My tearless eyes, all vividly, was wrought
A vision that is with me evermore: -
A little girl that lies asleep, nor hears
Nor heeds not any voice nor fall of tears. -
And I sit singing o'er and o'er and o'er, -
"God called her in from him and shut the door!"


[Illustration]



HER FACE AND BROW

Ah, help me! but her face and brow
Are lovelier than lilies are
Beneath the light of moon and star
That smile as they are smiling now -
White lilies in a pallid swoon
Of sweetest white beneath the moon -
White lilies, in a flood of bright
Pure lucidness of liquid light
Cascading down some plenilune,
When all the azure overhead
Blooms like a dazzling daisy-bed. -
So luminous her face and brow,
The luster of their glory, shed
In memory, even, blinds me now.


HER BEAUTIFUL EYES

O her beautiful eyes! they are 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 groped through the night of her beautiful eyes.


[Illustration]



WHEN SHE COMES HOME

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.


[Illustration]



LET US FORGET

Let us forget. What matters it that we
Once reigned o'er happy realms of long-ago,
And talked of love, and let our voices low,
And ruled for some brief sessions royally?
What if we sung, or laughed, or wept maybe?
It has availed not anything, and so
Let it go by that we may better know
How poor a thing is lost to you and me.
But yesterday I kissed your lips, and yet
Did thrill you not enough to shake the dew
From your drenched lids - and missed, with no regret,
Your kiss shot back, with sharp breaths failing you:
And so, to-day, while our worn eyes are wet
With all this waste of tears, let us forget!


[Illustration]



LEONAINIE

Leonainie - Angels named her;
And they took the light
Of the laughing stars and framed her
In a smile of white;
And they made her hair of gloomy
Midnight, and her eyes of bloomy
Moonshine, and they brought her to me
In the solemn night. -

In a solemn night of summer,
When my heart of gloom
Blossomed up to greet the comer


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