James Whitcomb Riley

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

My Jolly Friend's Secret


Ah, friend of mine, how goes it,
Since you've taken you a mate?--
Your smile, though, plainly shows it
Is a very happy state!
Dan Cupid's necromancy!
You must sit you down and dine,
And lubricate your fancy
With a glass or two of wine.

And as you have 'deserted,'
As my other chums have done,
While I laugh alone diverted,
As you drop off one by one--
And I've remained unwedded,
Till--you see--look here--that I'm,
In a manner, 'snatched bald-headed'
By the sportive hand of Time!

I'm an 'old 'un!' yes, but wrinkles
Are not so plenty, quite,
As to cover up the twinkles
Of the BOY--ain't I right?
Yet, there are ghosts of kisses
Under this mustache of mine
My mem'ry only misses
When I drown 'em out with wine.

From acknowledgment so ample,
You would hardly take me for
What I am--a perfect sample
Of a 'jolly bachelor';
Not a bachelor has being
When he laughs at married life
But his heart and soul's agreeing
That he ought to have a wife!

Ah, ha I old chum, this claret,
Like Fatima, holds the key
Of the old Blue-Beardish garret
Of my hidden mystery!
Did you say you'd like to listen?
Ah, my boy! the 'SAD NO MORE!'
And the tear-drops that will glisten--
TURN THE CATCH UPON THE DOOR,

And sit you down beside me,
And put yourself at ease--
I'll trouble you to slide me
That wine decanter, please;
The path is kind o' mazy
Where my fancies have to go,
And my heart gets sort o' lazy
On the journey--don't you know?

Let me see--when I was twenty--
It's a lordly age, my boy,
When a fellow's money's plenty,
And the leisure to enjoy--
And a girl--with hair as golden
As--THAT; and lips--well--quite
As red as THIS I'm holdin'
Between you and the light.

And eyes and a complexion--
Ah, heavens!--le'-me-see--
Well,--just in this connection,--
DID YOU LOCK THAT DOOR FOR ME?
Did I start in recitation
My past life to recall?
Well, THAT'S an indication
I am purty tight--that's all!

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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