James Whitcomb Riley

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

I Smoke My Pipe - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

I can't extend to every friend
In need a helping hand--
No matter though I wish it so,
'Tis not as Fortune planned;
But haply may I fancy they
Are men of different stripe
Than others think who hint and wink,--
And so--I smoke my pipe!

A golden coal to crown the bowl--
My pipe and I alone,--
I sit and muse with idler views
Perchance than I should own:--
It might be worse to own the purse
Whose glutted bowels gripe
In little qualms of stinted alms;
And so I smoke my pipe.

And if inclined to moor my mind
And cast the anchor Hope,
A puff of breath will put to death
The morbid misanthrope
That lurks inside--as errors hide
In standing forms of type
To mar at birth some line of worth;
And so I smoke my pipe.

The subtle stings misfortune flings
Can give me little pain
When my narcotic spell has wrought
This quiet in my brain:
When I can waste the past in taste
So luscious and so ripe
That like an elf I hug myself;
And so I smoke my pipe.

And wrapped in shrouds of drifting clouds,
I watch the phantom's flight,
Till alien eyes from Paradise
Smile on me as I write:
And I forgive the wrongs that live,
As lightly as I wipe
Away the tear that rises here;
And so I smoke my pipe.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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