James Whitcomb Riley

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

It's_Got_To Be - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

'When it's _got_ to be,'--like! always say,
As I notice the years whiz past,
And know each day is a yesterday,
When we size it up, at last,--
Same as I said when my _boyhood_ went
And I knowed _we_ had to quit,--
'It's _got_ to be, and it's _goin'_ to be!'--
So I said 'Good-by' to _it_.

It's _got_ to be, and it's _goin'_ to be!
So at least I always try
To kind o' say in a hearty way,--
'Well, it's _got_ to be. Good-by!'

The time jes melts like a late, last snow,--
When it's _got_ to be, it melts!
But I aim to keep a cheerful mind,
Ef I can't keep nothin' else!
I knowed, when I come to twenty-one,
That I'd soon be twenty-two,--
So I waved one hand at the soft young man,
And I said, 'Good-by to _you_!'

It's _got_ to be, and it's _goin'_ to be!
So at least I always try
To kind o' say, in a cheerful way,--
'Well, it's _got_ to be.--Good-by!'

They kep' a-goin', the years and years,
Yet still I smiled and smiled,--
For I'd said 'Good-by' to my single life,
And I now had a wife and child:
Mother and son and the father--one,--
Till, last, on her bed of pain,
She jes' smiled up, like she always done,--
And I said 'Good-by' again.

It's _got_ to be, and it's _goin'_ to be!
So at least I always try
To kind o' say, in a humble way,--
'Well, it's _got_ to be. Good-by!'

And then my boy--as he growed to be
Almost a man in size,--
Was more than a pride and joy to me,
With his mother's smilin' eyes.--
He gimme the slip, when the War broke out,
And followed me. And I
Never knowed till the first right's end ...
I found him, and then, ... 'Good-by.'

It's _got_ to be, and it's _goin'_ to be!
So at least I always try
To kind o' say, in a patient way,
'Well, it's _got_ to be. Good-by!'

I have said, 'Good-by!--Good-by!--Good-by!'
With my very best good will,
All through life from the first,--and I
Am a cheerful old man still:

But it's _got_ to end, and it's _goin'_ to end!
And this is the thing I'll do,--
With my last breath I will laugh, O Death,
And say 'Good-by' to _you_!...

It's _got_ to be! And again I say,--
When his old scythe circles high,
I'll laugh--of course, in the kindest way,--
As I say 'Good-by!--Good-by!'


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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