James Whitcomb Riley

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

At Broad Ripple


Oh luxury! Beyond the heat
And dust of town, with dangling feet
Astride the rock below the dam,
In the cool shadows where the calm
Rests on the stream again, and all
Is silent save the waterfall,--
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

No high ambition can I claim --
I angle not for lordly game
Of trout, or bass, or wary bream --
A black perch reaches the extreme
Of my desires; and "goggle-eyes"
Are not a thing that I despise;
A sunfish, or a "chub," or a "cat"--
A "silver-side"-- yea, even that!

In eloquent tranquility
The waters lisp and talk to me.
Sometimes, far out, the surface breaks,
As some proud bass an instant shakes
His glittering armor in the sun,
And romping ripples, one by one,
Come dallyiong across the space
Where undulates my smiling face.

The river's story flowing by,
Forever sweet to ear and eye,
Forever tenderly begun --
Forever new and never done.
Thus lulled and sheltered in a shade
Where never feverish cares invade,
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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