James Whitcomb Riley

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

The Funny Little Fellow - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

'Twas a Funny Little Fellow
Of the very purest type,
For he had a heart as mellow
As an apple over ripe;
And the brightest little twinkle
When a funny thing occurred,
And the lightest little tinkle
Of a laugh you ever heard!

His smile was like the glitter
Of the sun in tropic lands,
And his talk a sweeter twitter
Than the swallow understands;
Hear him sing--and tell a story--
Snap a joke--ignite a pun,--
'Twas a capture--rapture--glory,
An explosion--all in one!

Though he hadn't any money--
That condiment which tends
To make a fellow 'honey'
For the palate of his friends;--
Sweet simples he compounded--
Sovereign antidotes for sin
Or taint,--a faith unbounded
That his friends were genuine.

He wasn't honored, maybe--
For his songs of praise were slim,--
Yet I never knew a baby
That wouldn't crow for him;
I never knew a mother
But urged a kindly claim
Upon him as a brother,
At the mention of his name.

The sick have ceased their sighing,
And have even found the grace
Of a smile when they were dying
As they looked upon his face;
And I've seen his eyes of laughter
Melt in tears that only ran
As though, swift-dancing after,
Came the Funny Little Man.

He laughed away the sorrow
And he laughed away the gloom
We are all so prone to borrow
From the darkness of the tomb;
And he laughed across the ocean
Of a happy life, and passed,
With a laugh of glad emotion,
Into Paradise at last.

And I think the Angels knew him,
And had gathered to await
His coming, and run to him
Through the widely opened Gate,
With their faces gleaming sunny
For his laughter-loving sake,
And thinking, 'What a funny
Little Angel he will make!'


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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