James Whitcomb Riley

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

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!--
Far ever'thing '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 there in the furries
A-wishin' far evening to come,
And a-whisperin' over and over
Them words, 'Do They Miss Me at Home?'

You see, Marthy Ellen she sung it
The first time I heerd it; and so,
As she was my very first sweetheart,
It reminds of her, don't you know,--
How her face ust to look, in the twilight,
As I tuck her to spellin'; and she
Kep' a-hummin' that song 'tel I ast her,
Pine-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 whippoorwills 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' up'ards
And on through the heavenly dome,
With my longin' soul singin' and sobbin'
The words, 'Do They Miss Me at Home?'

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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