James Whitcomb Riley

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

Limitations Of Genius - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

The audience entire seemed pleased--indeed
_Extremely_ pleased. And little Maymie, freed
From her task of instructing, ran to show
Her wondrous colored picture to and fro
Among the company.

'And how comes it,' said
Some one to Mr. Hammond, 'that, instead
Of the inventor's life you did not choose
The _artist's?_--since the world can better lose
A cutting-box or reaper than it can
A noble picture painted by a man
Endowed with gifts this drawing would suggest'--
Holding the picture up to show the rest.
'_There now!_' chimed in the wife, her pale face lit
Like winter snow with sunrise over it,--
'That's what _I'm_ always asking him.--But _he_--
_Well_, as he's answering _you_, he answers _me_,--
With that same silent, suffocating smile
He's wearing now!'

For quite a little while
No further speech from anyone, although
All looked at Mr. Hammond and that slow,
Immutable, mild smile of his. And then
The encouraged querist asked him yet again
_Why was it_, and etcetera--with all
The rest, expectant, waiting 'round the wall,--
Until the gentle Mr. Hammond said
He'd answer with a '_parable_,' instead--
About 'a dreamer' that he used to know--
'An artist'--'master'--_all_--in _embryo_.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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