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AO James Whitcomb Riley Poems AmblesideOnline.org

AmblesideOnline Poems of James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)

"The Hoosier Poet"


01 - When the Frost is on the Punkin

We recommend this YouTube video of Kent Risley reciting this poem.

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 hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then's the times a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here--
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' 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 russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries--kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermons to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawsack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below--the clover overhead!--
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin, and the fodder's in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too!
I don't know how to tell it--but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me--
I'd want to 'commodate 'em--all the whole-indurin' flock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock!


02 - Little Orphant Annie

Inscribed, with All Faith and Affection:
To all the little children:--the happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones--Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.

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 children, 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
     Don't
       Watch
             Out!

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
     Don't
       Watch
             Out!

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
     Don't
       Watch
             Out!

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputter, 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' cherish 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
     Don't
       Watch
             Out!


03 - The Raggedy Man

Here's a YouTube video of 72 year-old Ruth Brown Lewis reciting this poem.

O the Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
An' he's the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An' waters the horses, an' feeds 'em hay;
An' he opens the shed--an' we all ist laugh
When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
An' nen--ef our hired girl says he can--
He milks the cow fer 'Lizabuth Ann.--
Ain't he a' awful good Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

W'y, The Raggedy Man--he's ist so good,
He splits the kindlin' an' chops the wood;
An' nen he spades in our garden, too,
An' does most things 'at boys can't do.--
He clumbed clean up in our big tree
An' shooked a' apple down fer me--
An' 'nother 'n', too, fer 'Lizabuth Ann--
An' 'nother 'n', too, fer The Raggedy Man.--
Ain't he a' awful kind Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' The Raggedy Man one time say he
Pick' roast' rambos from a' orchurd-tree,
An' et 'em--all ist roast' an' hot!--
An' it's so, too!--'cause a corn-crib got
Afire one time an' all burn' down
On "The Smoot Farm," 'bout four mile from town--
On "The Smoot Farm"! Yes--an' the hired han'
'At worked there nen 'uz The Raggedy Man!--
Ain't he the beatin'est Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

The Raggedy Man's so good an' kind
He'll be our "horsey," an' "haw" an' mind
Ever'thing 'at you make him do--
An' won't run off--'less you want him to!
I drived him wunst way down our lane
An' he got skeered, when it 'menced to rain,
An' ist rared up an' squealed and run
Purt' nigh away!--an' it's all in fun!
Nen he skeered ag'in at a' old tin can ...
Whoa! y' old runaway Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
An' tells 'em, ef I be good, sometimes:
Knows 'bout Giunts, an' Griffuns, an' Elves,
An' the Squidgicum-Squees 'at swallers the'rselves:
An', wite by the pump in our pasture-lot,
He showed me the hole 'at the Wunks is got,
'At lives 'way deep in the ground, an' can
Turn into me, er 'Lizabuth Ann!
Er Ma, er Pa, er The Raggedy Man!
Ain't he a funny old Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' wunst, when The Raggedy Man come late,
An' pigs ist root' thue the garden-gate,
He 'tend like the pigs 'uz bears an' said,
"Old Bear-shooter'll shoot 'em dead!"
An' race' an' chase' 'em, an' they'd ist run
When he pint his hoe at 'em like it's a gun
An' go "Bang!--Bang!" nen 'tend he stan'
An' load up his gun ag'in! Raggedy Man!
He's an old Bear-shooter Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' sometimes The Raggedy Man lets on
We're little prince-children, an' old King's gone
To git more money, an' lef' us there--
And Robbers is ist thick ever'where;
An' nen--ef we all won't cry, fer shore--
The Raggedy Man he'll come and "'splore
The Castul-halls," an' steal the "gold"--
An' steal us, too, an' grab an' hold
An' pack us off to his old "Cave"!--An'
Haymow's the "cave" o' The Raggedy Man!--
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

The Raggedy Man--one time, when he
Wuz makin' a little bow-'n'-orry fer me,
Says "When you're big like your Pa is,
Air you go' to keep a fine store like his--
An' be a rich merchunt--an' wear fine clothes?--
Er what air you go' to be, goodness knows?"
An' nen he laughed at 'Lizabuth Ann,
An' I says "'M go' to be a Raggedy Man!--
I'm ist go' to be a nice Raggedy Man!"
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!


04 - The Bumblebee

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' kind o' 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!"


05 - Granny

Granny's come to our house,
And ho! my lawzy-daisy!
All the childern round the place
Is ist a-runnin' crazy!
Fetched a cake fer little Jake,
And fetched a pie fer Nanny,
And fetched a pear fer all the pack
That runs to kiss their Granny!

Lucy Ellen's in her lap,
And Wade and Silas Walker
Both's a-ridin' on her foot,
And 'Pollos on the rocker;
And Marthy's twins, from Aunt Marinn's,
And little Orphant Annie,
All's a-eatin' gingerbread
And giggle-un at Granny!

Tells us all the fairy tales
Ever thought er wundered--
And 'bundance o' other stories--
Bet she knows a hunderd!--
Bob's the one fer "Whittington,"
And "Golden Locks" fer Fanny!
Hear 'em laugh and clap their hands,
Listenin' at Granny!

"Jack the Giant-Killer" 's good;
And "Bean-Stalk" 's another!--
So's the one of "Cinderell'"
And her old godmother;--
That-un's best of all the rest--
Bestest one of any,--
Where the mices scampers home
Like we runs to Granny!

Granny's come to our house,
Ho! my lawzy-daisy!
All the childern round the place
Is ist a-runnin' crazy!
Fetched a cake fer little Jake,
And fetched a pie fer Nanny,
And fetched a pear fer all the pack
That runs to kiss their Granny!


06 - Our Hired Girl

Our hired girl, she's 'Lizabuth Ann;
An' she can cook best things to eat!
She ist puts dough in our pie-pan,
An' pours in somepin' 'at's good an' sweet;
An' nen she salts it all on top
With cinnamon; an' nen she'll stop
An' stoop an' slide it, ist as slow,
In th' old cook-stove, so's 'twon't slop
An' git all spilled; nen bakes it, so
It's custard-pie, first thing you know!
An' nen she'll say,
"Clear out o' my way!
They's time fer work, an' time fer play!
Take yer dough, an' run, child, run!
Er I cain't git no cookin' done!"

When our hired girl 'tends like she's mad,
An' says folks got to walk the chalk
When she's around, er wisht they had!
I play out on our porch an' talk
To Th' Raggedy Man 'at mows our lawn;
An' he says, "Whew!" an' nen leans on
His old crook-scythe, and blinks his eyes,
An' sniffs all 'round an' says, "I swawn!
Ef my old nose don't tell me lies,
It 'pears like I smell custard-pies!"
An' nen he'll say,
"Clear out o' my way!
They's time fer work, an' time fer play!
Take yer dough, an' run, child, run!
Er she cain't git no cookin' done!"

Wunst our hired girl, when she
Got the supper, an' we all et,
An' it wuz night, an' Ma an' me
An' Pa went wher' the "Social" met,--
An' nen when we come home, an' see
A light in the kitchen door, an' we
Heerd a maccordeun, Pa says, "Lan'-
O'-Gracious! who can her beau be?"
An' I marched in, an' 'Lizabuth Ann
Wuz parchin' corn fer The Raggedy Man!
Better say,
"Clear out o' the way!
They's time fer work, an' time fer play!
Take the hint, an' run, child, run!
Er we cain't git no courtin' done!"


07 - A Barefoot Boy

A barefoot boy! I mark him at his play--
For May is here once more, and so is he,--
His dusty trousers, rolled half to the knee,
And his bare ankles grimy, too, as they:
Cross-hatchings of the nettle, in array
Of feverish stripes, hint vividly to me
Of woody pathways winding endlessly
Along the creek, where even yesterday
He plunged his shrinking body--gasped and shook--
Yet called the water "warm," with never lack
Of joy. And so, half enviously I look
Upon this graceless barefoot and his track,--
His toe stubbed--ay, his big toe-nail knocked back
Like unto the clasp of an old pocketbook.


08 - The Old Swimmin'-Hole

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
Sounded like the laugh of something we onc't ust to know
Before we could remember anything but the eyes
Of the angels lookin' out as we left Paradise;
But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
And it's hard to part ferever with the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the happy days of yore,
When I ust to lean above it on the old sickamore,
Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
That gazed back at me so gay and glorified,
It made me love myself, as I leaped to cares
My shadder smilin' up at me with sich tenderness.
But them days is past and gone, and old Time's tuck his toll
From the old man come back to the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the long, lazy days
When the humdrum of school made so many run-a-ways,
How pleasant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
Whare the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plane
You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
They was lots o' fun on hands at the old swimmin'-hole.
But the lost joys is past! Let your tears in sorrow roll
Like the rain that ust to dapple up the old swimmin'-hole.

Thare the bullrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
And the sunshine and shadder fell over it all;
And it mottled the worter with amber and gold
Tel the glad lilies rocked in the ripples that rolled;
And the snake-feeder's four gauzy wings fluttered by
Like the ghost of a daisy dropped out of the sky,
Or a wownded apple-blossom in the breeze's controle
As it cut acrost some orchurd to'rds the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! When I last saw the place,
The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
Whare the old divin'-log lays sunk and fergot.
And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be--
But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin'-hole.


09 - There Was a Cherry-Tree

There was a cherry-tree. Its bloomy snows
Cool even now the fevered sight that knows
No more its airy visions of pure joy--
As when you were a boy.

There was a cherry-tree. The Bluejay sat
His blue against its white--O blue as jet
He seemed there then!--But now--Whoever knew
He was so pale a blue!

There was a cherry-tree--our child-eyes saw
The miracle:--Its pure white snows did thaw
Into a crimson fruitage, far too sweet
But for a boy to eat.

There was a cherry-tree, give thanks and joy!--
There was a bloom of snow--There was a boy--
There was a bluejay of the realest blue--
And fruit for both of you.


10 - The First Bluebird

Jest rain and snow! and rain again!
And dribble! drip! and blow!
Then snow! and thaw! and slush! and then
Some more rain and snow!

This morning I was 'most afeard
To wake up when, I jing!
I seen the sun shine out and heerd
The first bluebird of Spring!

Mother she'd raised the winder some;
And in acrost the orchurd come,
Soft as a angel's wing,
A breezy, treesy, beesy hum,
Too sweet fer anything!

The winter's shroud was rent a-part
The sun bust forth in glee,
And when that bluebird sung, my hart
Hopped out o' bed with me!


11 - The Pixy People

It was just a very
Merry fairy dream!
All the woods were airy
With the gloom and gleam;
Crickets in the clover
Clattered clear and strong,
And the bees droned over
Their old honey-song.

In the mossy passes,
Saucy grasshoppers
Leapt about the grasses
And the thistle-burrs;
And the whispered chuckle
Of the katydid
Shook the honeysuckle
Blossoms where he hid.

Through the breezy mazes
Of the lazy June,
Drowsy with the hazes
Of the dreamy noon,
Little Pixy-people
Winged above the walk,
Pouring from the steeple
Of a mullein-stalk.

One-a gallant fellow
Evidently King,
Wore a plume of yellow
In a jewelled ring
On a pansy bonnet,
Gold and white and blue,
With the dew still on it,
And the fragrance, too.

One-a dainty lady,
Evidently Queen
Wore a gown of shady
Moonshine and green,
With a lace of gleaming
Starlight that sent
All the dewdrops dreaming
Everywhere she went.

One wore a waistcoat
Of roseleaves, out and in,
And one wore a faced-coat
Of tiger-lily-skin;
And one wore a neat coat
Of palest galingale';
And one a tiny street-coat,
And one a swallow-tail.

And Ho! sang the King of them,
And Hey! sang the Queen;
And round and round the ring of them
Went dancing o'er the green;
And Hey! sang the Queen of them,
And Ho! sang the King
And all that I had seen of them
-Wasn't anything!

It was just a very
Merry fairy dream!
All the woods were airy
With the gloom and gleam;
Crickets in the clover
Clattered clear and strong,
And the bees droned over
Their old honey-song!


12 - On Any Ordinery Man in a High State of Laughtur and Delight

As its 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.


13 - Pansies

Pansies! Pansies! How I love you, pansies!
Jaunty-faced, laughing-lipped and dewy-eyed with glee;
Would my song might blossom out in little five-leaved stanzas

As delicate in fancies
As your beauty is to me!

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


14 - The Prayer Perfect

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!


15 - When Early March Seems Middle May

When country roads begin to thaw
In mottled spots of damp and dust,'
And fences by the margin draw
Along the frosty crust
Their graphic silhouettes, I say,
The Spring is coming round this way.

When morning-time is bright with sun
And keen with wind, and both confuse
The dancing, glancing eyes of one
With tears that ooze and ooze
And nose-tips weep as well as they,
The Spring is coming round this way.

When suddenly some shadow-bird
Goes wavering beneath the gaze,
And through the hedge the moan is heard
Of kine that fain would graze
In grasses new, I smile and say,
The Spring is coming round this way.
When knotted horse-tails are untied,
And teamsters whistle here and there,
And clumsy mitts are laid aside,
And choppers' hands are bare,
And chips are thick where children play,
The Spring is coming round this way.

When through the twigs the farmer tramps,
And troughs are chunked beneath the trees,
And fragrant hints of sugar-camps
Astray in every breeze,
And early March seems middle-May,
The Spring is coming round this way.

When coughs are changed to laughs, and when
Our frowns melt into smiles of glee,
And all our blood thaws out again
In streams of ecstasy,
And poets wreak their roundelay,
The Spring is coming round this way.


16 - The Funniest Thing in the World

The funniest thing in the world, I know,
Is watchin' the monkeys'at's in the show!
Jumpin' an' runnin' an' racin' roun',
'Way up the top o' the pole; nen down!
First they're here, an' nen they're there,
An' ist a'most any an' ever'where!
Screechin' an' scratchin' wherever they go,
They're the funniest thing in the world, I know!

They're the funniest thing in the world, I think:
Funny to watch'em eat an' drink;
Funny to watch'em a-watchin' us,
An' actin' 'most like grown folks does!
Funny to watch'em p'tend to be
Skeerd at their tail 'at they happen to see;
But the funniest thing in the world they do
Is never to laugh, like me an' you!


17 - Naughty Claude

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!"


18 - An Impetuous Resolve

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-rigg
As ever Bud can 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!


19 - A Sudden Shower

Barefooted boys scud up the street,
Or skurry under sheltering sheds;
And schoolgirl faces, pale and sweet,
Gleam from the shawls about their heads.

Doors bang; and mother-voices call
From alien homes; and rusty gates
Are slammed; and high above it all,
The thunder grim reverberates.

And then, abrupt,-the rain! the rain!
The earth lies gasping; and the eyes
Behind the streaming window-pane
Smile at the trouble of the skies.

The highway smokes; sharp echoes ring;
The cattle bawl and cowbells clank;
And into town comes galloping
The farmer's horse, with steaming flank.

The swallow dips beneath the eaves,
And flirts his plumes and folds his wings;
And under the catawba leaves
The caterpillar curls and clings.

The bumble-bee is pelted down
The wet stem of the hollyhock;
And sullenly, in spattered brown,
The cricket leaps the garden walk.

Within, the baby claps his hands
And crows with rapture strange and vague;
Without, beneath the rosebush stands
A dripping rooster on one leg.


20 - The Man in the Moon

Said the Raggedy Man, on a hot afternoon:
     "My!
          Sakes!
               What a lot o' mistakes
Some little folks makes on The Man in the Moon!
But people that's b'en to see him like me,
And calls on him frequent and intimutly,
Might drop a few facts that would interest you
     Clean!
          Through!-
               If you wanted 'em to-
Some actual facts that might interest you!

"O The Man in the Moon has a crick in his back;
     Whee!
          Whimm!
               Aint you sorry for him?
And a mole on his nose that is purple and black;
And his eyes are so weak that they water and run
If he dares to dream even he looks at the sun-
So he jes' dreams of stars, as the doctors advise-
     My!
          Eyes!
               But isn't he wise-
To jes' dream of stars, as the doctors advise?

"And the Man in the Moon has a boil on his ear-
     Whee!
          Whing!
               What a singular thing!
I know! but these facts are authentic, my dear-
There's a boil on his ear; and a corn on his chin-
He calls it a dimple-but dimples stick in
Yet it might be a dimple turned over, you know!
     Whang!
          Ho!
               Why, certainly so!-
It might be a dimple turned over, you know!

"And The Man in the Moon has a rheumatic knee-
     Gee!
          Whizz!
          What a pity that is!
And his toes have worked round where his heels ought to be-
So whenever he wants to go North he goes South,
And comes back with porridge-crumbs all round his mouth,
And he brushes them off with a Japanese fan,
     Whing!
          Whann!
               What a marvelous man!
What a very remarkably marvelous man!

And the Man in the Moon, "sighed The Raggedy Man,
     "Gits!
          So!
               Sullonesome, you know-
Up there by hisse'f sence creation began!-
That when I call on him and then come away,
He grabs me and holds me and begs me to stay-
Till-Well! if it wasn't fer Jimmy-cum-jim,
     Dadd!
          Limb!
              I'd go pardners with him-
Jes' jump my job here and be pardners with him!"


21 - Craqueodoom

The Crankadox leaned o'er the edge of the moon
And wistfully gazed on the sea
Where the Gryxabodill madly whistled a tune
To the air of "Ti-fol-de-ding-dee."
The quavering shriek of the Fly-up-the-creek
Was fitfully wafted afar
To the Queen of the Wunks as she powdered her cheek
With the pulverized rays of a star.

The Gool closed his ear on the voice of the Grig,
And his heart it grew heavy as lead
As he marked the Baldekin adjusting his wing
On the opposite side of his head,
And the air it grew chill as the Gryxabodill
Raised his dank, dripping fins to the skies,
And plead with the Plunk for the use of her bill
To pick the tears out of his eyes.

The ghost of the Zhack flitted by in a trance,
And the Squidjum hid under a tub
As he heard the loud hooves of the Hooken advance
With a rub-a-dub--dub-a-dub--dub!
And the Crankadox cried, as he lay down and died,
"My fate there is none to bewail,"
While the Queen of the Wunks drifted over the tide
With a long piece of crape to her tail.


22 - Prior to Miss Belle's Appearance

What makes you come HERE fer, Mister,
So much to our house?--SAY?
Come to see our big sister!--
An' Charley he says 'at you kissed her
An' he ketched you, th'uther day!--
Didn' you, Charley?--But we p'omised Belle
An' crossed our heart to never to tell--
'Cause SHE gived us some o' them-er
Chawk'lut-drops 'at you bringed to her!

Charley he's my little b'uther--
An' we has a-mostest fun,
Don't we, Charley?--Our Muther,
Whenever we whips one anuther,
Tries to whip US--an' we RUN--
Don't we, Charley?--An' nen, bime-by,
Nen she gives us cake--an' pie--
Don't she, Charley?--when we come in
An' pomise never to do it ag'in!

HE'S named Charley.--I'm WILLIE--
An' I'm got the purtiest name!
But Uncle Bob HE calls me "Billy"--
Don't he, Charley?--'N' our filly
We named "Billy," the same
Ist like me! An' our Ma said
'At "Bob puts foolishnuss into our head!"--
Didn' she, Charley?--An' SHE don't know
Much about BOYS!--'Cause Bob said so!

Baby's a funniest feller!
Nain't no hair on his head--
IS they, Charley?--It's meller
Wite up there! An' ef Belle er
Us ask wuz WE that way, Ma said,--
"Yes; an' yer PA'S head wuz soft as that,
An' it's that way yet!"--An' Pa grabs his hat
An' says, "Yes, childern, she's right about Pa--
'Cause that's the reason he married yer Ma!"

An' our Ma says 'at "Belle couldn'
Ketch nothin' at all but ist 'BOWS!"--
An' PA says 'at "you're soft as puddun!"--
An' UNCLE BOB says "you're a good-un--
'Cause he can tell by yer nose!"-
Didn' he, Charley?--An' when Belle'll play
In the poller on th' pianer, some day,
Bob makes up funny songs about you,
Till she gits mad-like he wants her to!

Our sister FANNY she's 'LEVEN
Years old! 'At's mucher 'an _I_--
Ain't it, Charley? . . . I'm seven!--
But our sister Fanny's in HEAVEN!
Nere's where you go ef you die!--
Don't you, Charley?--Nen you has WINGS--
IST LIKE FANNY!--an' PURTIEST THINGS!--
Don't you, Charley?--An' nen you can FLY--
Ist fly-an' EVER'thing!...I Wisht I'D die!


23 - A Dream

I dreamed I was a spider;
A big, fat, hungry spider;
A lusty, rusty spider
With a dozen palsied limbs;
With a dozen limbs that dangled
Where three wretched flies were tangled
And their buzzing wings were strangled
In the middle of their hymns.

And I mocked them like a demon--
A demoniacal demon
Who delights to be a demon
For the sake of sin alone;
And with fondly false embraces
Did I weave my mystic laces
Round their horror-stricken faces
Till I muffled every groan.

And I smiled to see them weeping,
For to see an insect weeping,
Sadly, sorrowfully weeping,
Fattens every spider's mirth;
And to note a fly's heart quaking,
And with anguish ever aching
Till you see it slowly breaking
Is the sweetest thing on earth.

I experienced a pleasure,
Such a highly-flavored pleasure,
Such intoxicating pleasure,
That I drank of it like wine;
And my mortal soul engages
That no spider on the pages
Of the history of ages
Felt a rapture more divine.

I careened around and capered--
Madly, mystically capered--
For three days and nights I capered
Round my web in wild delight;
Till with fierce ambition burning,
And an inward thirst and yearning
I hastened my returning
With a fiendish appetite.

And I found my victims dying,
"Ha!" they whispered, "we are dying!"
Faintly whispered, "we are dying,
And our earthly course is run."
And the scene was so impressing
That I breathed a special blessing,
As I killed them with caressing
And devoured them one by one.