James Whitcomb Riley

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

Ike Walton's Prayer


I crave, dear Lord,
No boundless hoard
Of gold and gear,
Nor jewels fine,
Nor lands, nor kine,
Nor treasure-heaps of anything.-
Let but a little hut be mine
Where at the hearthstore I may hear
The cricket sing,
And have the shine
Of one glad woman's eyes to make,
For my poor sake,
Our simple home a place divine;-
Just the wee cot-the cricket's chirr-
Love, and the smiling face of her.

I pray not for
Great riches, nor
For vast estates, and castle-halls,-
Give me to hear the bare footfalls
Of children o’er
An oaken floor,
New-risen with sunshine, or bespread
With but the tiny coverlet
And pillow for the baby’s head;
And pray Thou, may
The door stand open and the day
Send ever in a gentle breeze,
With fragrance from the locust-trees,
And drowsy moan of doves, and blur
Of robin-chirps, and drove of bees,
With afterhushes of the stir
Of intermingling sounds, and then
The good-wife and the smile of her
Filling the silences again-
The cricket’s call,
And the wee cot,
Dear Lord of all,
Deny me not!

I pray not that
Men tremble at
My power of place
And lordly sway, -
I only pray for simple grace
To look my neighbor in the face
Full honestly from day to day-
Yield me this horny palm to hold,
And I’ll not pray
For gold;-
The tanned face, garlanded with mirth,
It hath the kingliest smile on earth-
The swart brow, diamonded with sweat,
Hath never need of coronet.
And so I reach,
Dear Lord, to Thee,
And do beseech
Thou givest me
The wee cot, and the cricket’s chirr,
Love, and the glad sweet face of her.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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