James Whitcomb Riley

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

A Southern Singer


Written In Madison Caweln's 'Lyrics and Idyls.'

Herein are blown from out the South
Songs blithe as those of Pan's pursed mouth--
As sweet in voice as, in perfume,
The night-breath of magnolia-bloom.

Such sumptuous languor lures the sense--
Such luxury of indolence--
The eyes blur as a nymph's might blur,
With water-lilies watching her.

You waken, thrilling at the trill
Of some wild bird that seems to spill
The silence full of winey drips
Of song that Fancy sips and sips.

Betimes, in brambled lanes wherethrough
The chipmunk stripes himself from view,
You pause to lop a creamy spray
Of elder-blossoms by the way.

Or where the morning dew is yet
Gray on the topmost rail, you set
A sudden palm and, vaulting, meet
Your vaulting shadow in the wheat.

On lordly swards, of suave incline,
Entessellate with shade and shine,
You shall misdoubt your lowly birth,
Clad on as one of princely worth:

The falcon on your wrist shall ride--
Your milk-white Arab side by side
With one of raven-black.--You fain
Would kiss the hand that holds the rein.

Nay, nay, Romancer! Poet! Seer!
Sing us back home--from there to here;
Grant your high grace and wit, but we
Most honor your simplicity.--

Herein are blown from out the South
Songs blithe as those of Pan's pursed mouth--
As sweet in voice as, in perfume,
The night-breath of magnolia-bloom.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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