James Whitcomb Riley

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

Plain Sermons Poem by James Whitcomb Riley


I saw a man--and envied him beside--
Because of this world's goods he had great store;
But even as I envied him, he died,
And left me envious of him no more.

I saw another man--and envied still--
Because he was content with frugal lot;
But as I envied him, the rich man's will
Bequeathed him all, and envy I forgot.

Yet still another man I saw, and he
I envied for a calm and tranquil mind
That nothing fretted in the least degree--
Until, alas! I found that he was blind.

What vanity is envy! for I find
I have been rich in dross of thought, and poor
In that I was a fool, and lastly blind
For never having seen myself before!

Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010

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