James Whitcomb Riley

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

An Old Year's Address


'I have twankled the strings of the twinkering rain;
I have burnished the meteor's mail;
I have bridled the wind
When he whinnied and whined
With a bunch of stars tied to his tail;
But my sky-rocket hopes, hanging over the past,
Must fuzzle and fazzle and fizzle at last!'

I had waded far out in a drizzling dream,
And my fancies had spattered my eyes
With a vision of dread,
With a number ten head,
And a form of diminutive size--
That wavered and wagged in a singular way
As he wound himself up and proceeded to say,--

'I have trimmed all my corns with the blade of the moon;
I have picked every tooth with a star:
And I thrill to recall
That I went through it all
Like a tune through a tickled guitar.
I have ripped up the rainbow and raveled the ends
When the sun and myself were particular friends.'

And pausing again, and producing a sponge
And wiping the tears from his eyes,
He sank in a chair
With a technical air
That he struggled in vain to disguise,--
For a sigh that he breathed, as I over him leant,
Was haunted and hot with a peppermint scent.

'Alas!' he continued in quavering tones
As a pang rippled over his face,
'The life was too fast
For the pleasure to last
In my very unfortunate case;
And I'm going'--he said as he turned to adjust
A fuse in his bosom,--'I'm going to--BUST!'

I shrieked and awoke with the sullen che-boom
Of a five-pounder filling my ears;
And a roseate bloom
Of a light in the room
I saw through the mist of my tears,--
But my guest of the night never saw the display,
He had fuzzled and fazzled and fizzled away!

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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