James Whitcomb Riley

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

An Autumnal Extravaganza Poem by James Whitcomb Riley


With a sweeter voice than birds
Dare to twitter in their sleep,
Pipe for me a tune of words,
Till my dancing fancies leap
Into freedom vaster far
Than the realms of Reason are!
Sing for me with wilder fire
Than the lover ever sung,
From the time he twanged the lyre
When the world was baby-young.

O my maiden Autumn, you--
You have filled me through and through
With a passion so intense,
All of earthly eloquence
Fails, and falls, and swoons away
In your presence. Like as one
Who essays to look the sun
Fairly in the face, I say,
Though my eyes you dazzle blind
Greater dazzled is my mind.
So, my Autumn, let me kneel
At your feet and worship you!
Be my sweetheart; let me feel
Your caress; and tell me too
Why your smiles bewilder me--
Glancing into laughter, then
Trancing into calm again,
Till your meaning drowning lies
In the dim depths of your eyes.
Let me see the things you see
Down the depths of mystery!
Blow aside the hazy veil
From the daylight of your face
With the fragrance-ladened gale
Of your spicy breath and chase
Every dimple to its place.
Lift your gipsy finger-tips
To the roses of your lips,
And fling down to me a bud--
But an unblown kiss--but one--
It shall blossom in my blood,
Even after life is done--
When I dare to touch the brow
Your rare hair is veiling now--
When the rich, red-golden strands
Of the treasure in my hands
Shall be all of worldly worth
Heaven lifted from the earth,
Like a banner to have set
On its highest minaret.

Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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