James Whitcomb Riley

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

A Summer Sunrise - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley


The master-hand whose pencils trace
This wondrous landscape of the morn,
Is but the sun, whose glowing face
Reflects the rapture and the grace
Of inspiration Heaven-born.

And yet with vision-dazzled eyes,
I see the lotus-lands of old,
Where odorous breezes fall and rise,
And mountains, peering in the skies,
Stand ankle-deep in lakes of gold.

And, spangled with the shine and shade,
I see the rivers raveled out
In strands of silver, slowly fade
In threads of light along the glade
Where truant roses hide and pout.

The tamarind on gleaming sands
Droops drowsily beneath the heat;
And bowed as though aweary, stands
The stately palm, with lazy hands
That fold their shadows round his feet.

And mistily, as through a veil,
I catch the glances of a sea
Of sapphire, dimpled with a gale
Toward Colch's blowing, where the sail
Of Jason's Argo beckons me.

And gazing on and farther yet,
I see the isles enchanted, bright
With fretted spire and parapet,
And gilded mosque and minaret,
That glitter in the crimson light.

But as I gaze, the city's walls
Are keenly smitten with a gleam
Of pallid splendor, that appalls
The fancy as the ruin falls
In ashen embers of a dream.

Yet over all the waking earth
The tears of night are brushed away,
And eyes are lit with love and mirth,
And benisons of richest worth
Go up to bless the new-born day.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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