James Whitcomb Riley

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

A Life-Lesson - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your doll, I know;
And your tea-set blue,
And your play-house, too,
Are things of the long ago;
But childish troubles will soon pass by. --
There! little girl; don't cry!

There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your slate, I know;
And the glad, wild ways
Of your schoolgirl days
Are things of the long ago;
But life and love will soon come by. --
There! little girl; don't cry!

There! little girl; don't cry!
They have broken your heart I know;
And the rainbow gleams
Of your youthful dreams
Are things of the long ago;
But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. --
There! little girl; don't cry!


Comments about A Life-Lesson by James Whitcomb Riley

  • Gold Star - 6,219 Points Melvina Germain (7/30/2015 7:54:00 PM)

    I found this poem soothing, love it..... (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Silver Star - 4,496 Points John Richter (12/22/2014 8:15:00 AM)

    The great child's poet! What a wonderful time it must have been when the neighborhood children would sit on his porch drinking lemonade and listening to his stories.... A great man and benefactor to the Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis, one of the leading hospitals for children in the nation.... It is said that the neighborhood children brought up the fund for his memorial after his passing by donating coins. It is still tradition to leave coins at his memorial in Crown Hill cemetery in Indianapolis, which are used to aid the children's hospital. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 25 Points Padma Devkota (12/23/2013 8:54:00 PM)

    There was a song that went something like this: Now there's bubble gum/ All over your hair/ Your sling shot is broken/ But you mustn't care /... For cowboys never cry! I'm trying to recall the whole song. This poem reminds me of this song. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 867 Points Liliana ~el (12/23/2013 8:50:00 AM)

    Interesting poem, seems like she has a tough life, constantly told that her pain will pass and that the future holds better (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Arnab Sen (12/22/2013 11:40:00 PM)

    nice &fantastic...................................... (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 22,986 Points * Sunprincess * (12/22/2013 7:21:00 PM)

    I like the concluding lines...

    ~And the rainbow gleams
    Of your youthful dreams
    Are things of the long ago;
    But Heaven holds all for which you sigh. - (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 93 Points Meshack Bankole (12/22/2013 1:44:00 AM)

    Consoling! Comforting! Nice flow of words...thumb-up! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Dan Consoer (8/29/2012 10:04:00 PM)

    Do some silly people really think this is a poem about heaven? It's a poem about little lies, and big. And it ends with a lie about heaven. (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 607 Points Rekha Mandagere (12/22/2011 9:03:00 AM)

    Life is a great lesson, the suffering starts from childhood till end of life. First the dolls and are broken by peer group and later heart is broken by persons who we love.The life is tragic as well as comic.never cry for the loss. there is hidden voice appealing us to face life boldly. Nice theme is presented with suitable objects. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 7 Points Sylva Portoian (12/23/2009 4:29:00 AM)

    Thanks for sending this poem
    We can't read every written piece.
    I call it 'The Story of Every Girl'
    Pruchnicki's soulful comments
    Gave more glitter
    To this innocent eternal poem. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (12/22/2009 2:57:00 PM)

    Riley's 'A Life-Lesson' is not in any way a confusion of present tense or anything else for that matter. Our resident expert would do well to consult a source like Mary Kinzie's A POET'S GUIDE TO POETRY or THE NORTON INTRODUCTION TO POETRY (ed J. Paul Hunter) . Or so one would think after his most recent venture in interpreting someone else's poem.

    Read the three stanzas carefully and you will note both the repetitive nature of the phrasing and the progression from innocent childhood through the onset of puberty and on to the last stage of clear-eyed maturity, when a more experienced woman can look back and assess her life and 'the things of long ago' which have all passed by in each successive phase from childhood to the anticipation of life's end and Heaven's reward. Note also the transition from 'play-house' to 'schoolgirl days' to 'youthful dreams'- in the more general sense that dreams refer not to that unconscious state of physical rest but to the hopes for a future of love and youthful promise being fulfilled in her life! It seems to this reader that Riley has written an excellent poem using the subtle device of repetition to enhance the meaning and significance of each line and stanza. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (12/22/2009 6:47:00 AM)

    There is something wrong with the tenses in the first two verses. The poet sees a little girl crying over her broken doll (in the present tense) , then says that such things are in the past. Similarly in the second verse, the poet solaces the girl with a broken slate, then says such things are “of the long ago”. The third verse is correct the broken heart comes after the dreams.

    Perhaps the first verse (and the second could be similarly amended) should read:

    There! little girl; don't cry!
    They have broken your doll, I know;
    But your tea-set blue,
    And your play-house, too,
    Will be things of the long ago;
    And childish troubles will soon pass by. -
    There! little girl; don't cry! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 164 Points Joseph Poewhit (12/22/2009 6:39:00 AM)

    Portrays the folly of mortal life well, next to the Kingdom of GOD (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 9,304 Points Ramesh T A (12/22/2009 1:46:00 AM)

    Don't cry for anything you have lost in the world; for, you will get everything in heaven at last! What a solace! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Rita Shay (12/22/2008 10:11:00 PM)

    I cried when i read this poem. It was the ending that got me. So many of us are that sad little girl... (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 646 Points Marilyn Lott (6/3/2007 12:38:00 PM)

    I know who Mr. Riley is and I've loved his poems
    all my life. So wonderful to find all these great
    pieces - extraordinary work!
    Marily (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jasmine Ellis (12/22/2006 9:46:00 PM)

    nice choice of words (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Christina Helms (12/22/2005 6:07:00 PM)

    this poem is ok not my kinda taste though (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Setareh Ghanooni (12/22/2005 11:19:00 AM)

    I saw my own language in your language, can you see it too? (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Dana Mortenson (12/22/2005 12:48:00 AM)

    very nice work you did it is a cute poem that you wrote (Report) Reply

Read all 20 comments »




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Read poems about / on: girl, rainbow, house, heaven, life, dream



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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