James Whitcomb Riley

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

Scraps


There's a habit I have nurtured,
From the sentimental time
When my life was like a story,
And my heart a happy rhyme,--
Of clipping from the paper,
Or magazine, perhaps,
The idle songs of dreamers,
Which I treasure as my scraps.

They hide among my letters,
And they find a cozy nest
In the bosom of my wrapper,
And the pockets of my vest;
They clamber in my fingers
Till my dreams of wealth relapse
In fairer dreams than Fortune's
Though I find them only scraps.

Sometimes I find, in tatters
Like a beggar, form as fair
As ever gave to Heaven
The treasure of a prayer;
And words all dim and faded,
And obliterate in part,
Grow into fadeless meanings
That are printed on the heart.

Sometimes a childish jingle
Flings an echo, sweet and clear,
And thrills me as I listen
To the laughs I used to hear;
And I catch the gleam of faces,
And the glimmer of glad eyes
That peep at me expectant
O'er the walls of Paradise.

O syllables of measure!
Though you wheel yourselves in line,
And await the further order
Of this eager voice of mine;
You are powerless to follow
O'er the field my fancy maps,
So I lead you back to silence
Feeling you are only scraps.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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