James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

A Dream Of Long Ago - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Lying listless in the mosses
Underneath a tree that tosses
Flakes of sunshine, and embosses
Its green shadow with the snow--
Drowsy-eyed, I sink in slumber
Born of fancies without number--
Tangled fancies that encumber
Me with dreams of long ago.

Ripples of the river singing;
And the water-lilies swinging
Bells of Parian, and ringing
Peals of perfume faint and fine,
While old forms and fairy faces
Leap from out their hiding-places
In the past, with glad embraces
Fraught with kisses sweet as wine.

Willows dip their slender fingers
O'er the little fisher's stringers,
While he baits his hook and lingers
Till the shadows gather dim;
And afar off comes a calling
Like the sounds of water falling,
With the lazy echoes drawling
Messages of haste to him.

Little naked feet that tinkle
Through the stubble-fields, and twinkle
Down the winding road, and sprinkle
Little mists of dusty rain,
While in pasture-lands the cattle
Cease their grazing with a rattle
Of the bells whose clappers tattle
To their masters down the lane.

Trees that hold their tempting treasures
O'er the orchard's hedge embrasures,
Furnish their forbidden pleasures
As in Eden lands of old;
And the coming of the master
Indicates a like disaster
To the frightened heart that faster
Beats pulsations manifold.

Puckered lips whose pipings tingle
In staccato notes that mingle
Musically with the jingle-
Haunted winds that lightly fan
Mellow twilights, crimson-tinted
By the sun, and picture-printed
Like a book that sweetly hinted
Of the Nights Arabian.

Porticoes with columns plaited
And entwined with vines and freighted
With a bloom all radiated
With the light of moon and star;
Where some tender voice is winging
In sad flights of song, and singing
To the dancing fingers flinging
Dripping from the sweet guitar.

Would my dreams were never taken
From me: that with faith unshaken
I might sleep and never waken
On a weary world of woe!
Links of love would never sever
As I dreamed them, never, never!
I would glide along forever
Through the dreams of long ago.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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