James Whitcomb Riley
He was jes a plain ever'-day, all-round kind of a jour.,
Consumpted-Iookin'-- but la!
The jokeiest, wittiest, story-tellin', song-singin', laughin'est, jolliest
Feller you ever saw!
Worked at jes coarse work, but you kin bet he was fine enough in his talk,
And his feelin's too!
Lordy! Ef he was on'y back on his bench ag'in to-day, a- carryin' on
Like he ust to do!
Any shopmate'll tell you there never was, on top o' dirt,
A better feller'n Jim!
You want a favor, and couldn't git it anywheres else--
You could git it o' him!
Most free-heartedest man thataway in the world, I guess!
Give up ever' nickel he's worth--
And ef you'd a-wanted it, and named it to him, and it was his,
He'd a-give you the earth!
Allus a reachin' out, Jim was, and a-he'ppin' some
Pore feller onto his feet--
He'd a-never a-keered how hungry he was hisse'f,
So's the feller got somepin' to eat!
Didn't make no differ'nce at all to him how he was dressed,
He ust to say to me--,
'You togg out a tramp purty comfortable in winter-time, a huntin' a job,
And he'll git along!' says he.
Jim didn't have, ner never could git ahead, so overly much
O' this world's goods at a time--.
'Fore now I've saw him, more'n onc't, lend a dollar, and haf to, more'n
Turn round and borry a dime!
Mebby laugh and joke about it hisse'f fer awhile-- then jerk his coat,
And kindo' square his chin,
Tie on his apern, and squat hisse'f on his old shoe-bench,
And go to peggin' ag'in!
Patientest feller too, I reckon, 'at ever jes natchurly
Coughed hisse'f to death!
Long enough after his voice was lost he'd laugh in a whisper and say
He could git ever'thing but his breath--
'You fellers,' he'd sorto' twinkle his eyes and say,
'Is a-pilin' onto me
A mighty big debt fer that-air little weak-chested ghost o' mine to pack
Through all Eternity!'
Now there was a man 'at jes 'peared-like, to me,
'At ortn't a-never a-died!
'But death hain't a-showin' no favors,' the old boss said--
'On'y to Jim!' and cried:
And Wigger, who puts up the best sewed-work in the shop--
Er the whole blame neighborhood--,
He says, 'When God made Jim, I bet you He didn't do anything else that day
But jes set around and feel good!'
James Whitcomb Riley's Other Poems
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(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
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