James Whitcomb Riley

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

The Book Of Joyous Children


Bound and bordered in leaf-green,
Edged with trellised buds and flowers
And glad Summer-gold, with clean
White and purple morning-glories
Such as suit the songs and stories
Of this book of ours,
Unrevised in text or scene,--
The Book of Joyous Children.

Wild and breathless in their glee--
Lawless rangers of all ways
Winding through lush greenery
Of Elysian vales--the viny,
Bowery groves of shady, shiny
Haunts of childish days.
Spread and read again with me
The Book of Joyous Children.

What a whir of wings, and what
Sudden drench of dews upon
The young brows, wreathed, all unsought,
With the apple-blossom garlands
Of the poets of those far lands
Whence all dreams are drawn
Set herein and soiling not
The Book of Joyous Children.

In their blithe companionship
Taste again, these pages through,
The hot honey on your lip
Of the sun-smit wild strawberry,
Or the chill tart of the cherry;
Kneel, all glowing, to
The cool spring, and with it sip
The Book of Joyous Children.

As their laughter needs no rule,
So accept their language, pray.--
Touch it not with any tool:
Surely we may understand it,--
As the heart has parsed or scanned it
Is a worthy way,
Though found not in any School
The Book of Joyous Children.

Be a truant--know no place
Of prison under heaven's rim!
Front the Father's smiling face--
Smiling, that _you_ smile the brighter
For the heavy hearts made lighter,
Since you smile with Him.
Take--and thank Him for His grace--
The Book of Joyous Children.

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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