James Whitcomb Riley

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

In Bohemia - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

Ha! My dear! I'm back again--
Vendor of Bohemia's wares!
Lordy! How it pants a man
Climbing up those awful stairs!
Well, I've made the dealer say
Your sketch _might_ sell, anyway!
And I've made a publisher
Hear my poem, Kate, my dear.

In Bohemia, Kate, my dear--
Lodgers in a musty flat
On the top floor--living here
Neighborless, and used to that,--
Like a nest beneath the eaves,
So our little home receives
Only guests of chirping cheer--
We'll be happy, Kate, my dear!

Under your north-light there, you
At your easel, with a stain
On your nose of Prussian blue,
Paint your bits of shine and rain;
With my feet thrown up at will
O'er my littered window-sill,
I write rhymes that ring as clear
As your laughter, Kate, my dear.

Puff my pipe, and stroke my hair--
Bite my pencil-tip and gaze
At you, mutely mooning there
O'er your 'Aprils' and your 'Mays!'
Equal inspiration in
Dimples of your cheek and chin,
And the golden atmosphere
Of your paintings, Kate, my dear!

_Trying_! Yes, at times it is,
To clink happy rhymes, and fling
On the canvas scenes of bliss,
When we are half famishing!--
When your 'jersey' rips in spots,
And your hat's 'forget-me-nots'
Have grown tousled, old and sere--
It is trying, Kate, my dear!

But--as sure--_some_ picture sells,
And--sometimes--the poetry--
Bless us! How the parrot yells
His acclaims at you and me!
How we revel then in scenes
Of high banqueting!--sardines--
Salads--olives--and a sheer
Pint of sherry, Kate, my dear!

Even now I cross your palm,
With this great round world of gold!--
'Talking wild?' Perhaps I am--
Then, this little five-year-old!--
Call it anything you will,
So it lifts your face until
I may kiss away that tear
Ere it drowns me, Kate, my dear.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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