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This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:-
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.

A craven hung along the battle's edge,

And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel-
That blue blade that the king's son bears-but this
Blunt thing!"-he snapped and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.

Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

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Out to Old Aunt Mary's


"On an early day in a memorable October, Reuben A. Riley and his wife, Elizabeth Marine Riley, rejoiced over the birth of their second son. They called him James Whitcomb

From "The Complete Works of

James Whitcomb Riley."

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Bobbs-Merrill Company (in 6 volumes.)

Mr. Riley always replied when asked the direct question as to his age, "I am this side of forty." Oct. 7, 1853, is the generally accepted date of his birth.

(Died July 22, 1916)

Wasn't it pleasant, O brother mine,

In those old days of the lost sunshine

Of youth-when the Saturday's chores were through,
And the "Sunday's wood" in the kitchen, too,
And we went visiting, "me and you,"

Out to Old Aunt Mary's?

It all comes back so clear today!
Though I am as bald as you are gray-
Out by the barn-lot, and down the lane,
We patter along in the dust again,
As light as the tips of the drops of the rain,
Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

We cross the pasture, and through the wood
Where the old gray snag of the poplar stood,
Where the hammering red-heads hopped awry,
And the buzzard "raised" in the clearing sky,
And lolled and circled, as we went by,

Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And then in the dust of the road again;
And the teams we met, and the countrymen ;
And the long highway, with sunshine spread
As thick as butter on country bread,

Our cares behind, and our hearts ahead
Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

Why, I see her now in the open door,

Where the little gourds grew up the sides, and o'er
The clapboard roof!-And her face-ah, me!

Wasn't it good for a boy to see

And wasn't it good for a boy to be

Out to Old Aunt Mary's?

The jelly-the jam and the marmalade,
And the cherry and quince "preserves" she made!
And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,
With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare!-
And the more we ate was the more to spare,
Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

And the old spring-house in the cool green gloom
Of the willow-trees, and the cooler room

Where the swinging-shelves and the crocks were kept-
Where the cream in a golden languor slept
While the waters gurgled and laughed and wept-
Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

And as many a time have you and I—
Barefoot boys in the days gone by-
Knelt, and in tremulous ecstasies
Dipped our lips into sweets like these,-
Memory now is on her knees

Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

And O, my brother, so far away,
This is to tell you she waits today
To welcome us:-Aunt Mary fell
Asleep this morning, whispering, "Tell
The boys to come!" And all is well
Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

From "Afterwhiles," by James Whitcomb
Riley. Copyright 1898. Used by special
permission of the Publishers, The Bobbs-
Merrill Company.

The complete edition of Riley's poems includes many stanzas which are familiar only to the student of Riley's poems. Most editors omit the next to the last stanza, as the poem stands complete, but it is the opinion of Professor R. M. Alden of Stanford University that with this omission the continuity of thought is broken.

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Little thinks, in the field, yon red-cloaked clown.
Of thee from the hill-top looking down;
The heifer that lows in the upland farm,
Far-heard, lows not thine ear to charm;
The sexton, tolling his bell at noon,
Deems not that great Napoleon

Stops his horse, and lists with delight,

Whilst his files sweep round yon Alpine height;

Nor knowest thou what argument

Thy life to thy neighbor's creed has lent.
All are needed by each one,-

Nothing is fair or good alone.

I thought the sparrow's note from heaven,
Singing at dawn on the alder bough;

I brought him home, in his nest, at even;
He sings the song, but it cheers not now;
For I did not bring home the river and sky;
He sang to my ear,-they sang to my eye.

The delicate shells lay on the shore;
The bubbles of the latest wave
Fresh pearls to their enamel gave,
And the bellowing of the savage sea
Greeted their safe escape to me.
I wiped away the weeds and foam-
I fetched my sea-born treasures home;
But the poor, unsightly, noisome things

Had left their beauty on the shore

With the sun and the sand and the wild uproar.

The lover watched his graceful maid,
As 'mid the virgin train she strayed,
Nor knew her beauty's best attire
Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
At last she came to his hermitage,

Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage; The gay enchantment was undone―

A gentle wife, but fairy none.

Then I said, "I covet truth;

Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat;

I leave it behind with the games of youth."
As I spoke, beneath my feet

The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;

I inhaled the violet's breath;

Around me stood the oaks and firs;

Pine cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Over me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and of deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,

The rolling river, the morning bird;
Beauty through my senses stole;
I yielded myself to the perfect whole.

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In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,

Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the redbird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why

This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,

Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,

Then Beauty is its own excuse for being:

Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose!

I never thought to ask, I never knew:

But, in my simple ignorance, suppose

The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.

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