James Whitcomb Riley

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

Jack-In-The-Box - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

_(Grandfather, musing.)_

In childish days! O memory,
You bring such curious things to me!--
Laughs to the lip--tears to the eye,
In looking on the gifts that lie
Like broken playthings scattered o'er
Imagination's nursery floor!
Did these old hands once click the key
That let 'Jack's' box-lid upward fly,
And that blear-eyed, fur-whiskered elf
Leap, as though frightened at himself,
And quiveringly lean and stare
At me, his jailer, laughing there?

A child then! Now--I only know
They call me very old; and so
They will not let me have my way,--
But uselessly I sit all day
Here by the chimney-jamb, and poke
The lazy fire, and smoke and smoke,
And watch the wreaths swoop up the flue,
And chuckle--ay, I often do--
Seeing again, all vividly,
Jack-in-the-box leap, as in glee
To see how much he looks like me!

... They talk. I can't hear what they say--
But I am glad, clean through and through
Sometimes, in fancying that they
Are saying, 'Sweet, that fancy strays
In age back to our childish days!'

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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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