James Whitcomb Riley

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

Father William Poem by James Whitcomb Riley


A NEW VERSION BY LEE O. HARRIS AND JAMES
WHITCOMB RILEY

'You are old, Father William, and though one would think
All the veins in your body were dry,
Yet the end of your nose is red as a pink;
I beg your indulgence, but why?'

'You see,' Father William replied, 'in my youth--
'Tis a thing I must ever regret--
It worried me so to keep up with the truth
That my nose has a flush on it yet.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'and I grieve to detect
A feverish gleam in your eye;
Yet I'm willing to give you full time to reflect.
Now, pray, can you answer me why?'

'Alas,' said the sage, 'I was tempted to choose
Me a wife in my earlier years,
And the grief, when I think that she didn't refuse,
Has reddened my eyelids with tears.'

'You are old, Father William,' the young man said,
'And you never touch wine, you declare,
Yet you sleep with your feet at the head of the bed;
Now answer me that if you dare.'

'In my youth,' said the sage, 'I was told it was true,
That the world turned around in the night;
I cherished the lesson, my boy, and I knew
That at morning my feet would be right.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'and it grieved me to note,
As you recently fell through the door,
That 'full as a goose' had been chalked on your coat;
Now answer me that I implore.'

'My boy,' said the sage, 'I have answered you fair,
While you stuck to the point in dispute,
But this is a personal matter, and there
Is my answer--the toe of my boot.'

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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