James Whitcomb Riley

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

The Jolly Miller - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

It was a Jolly Miller lived on the River Dee;
He looked upon his piller, and there he found a flea:
'O Mr. Flea! you have bit' me,
And you shall shorely die!'
So he scrunched his bones against the stones--
And there he let him lie!

Twas then the Jolly Miller he laughed and told his wife,
And _she_ laughed fit to kill her, and dropped her carvin'-knife!--
'O Mr. Flea!' 'Ho-ho!' 'Tee-hee!'
They _both_ laughed fit to kill,
Until the sound did almost drownd
The rumble of the mill!

_'Laugh on, my Jolly Miller! and Missus Miller, too!--
But there's a weeping-willer will soon wave over you!'_
The voice was all so awful small--
So very small and slim!--
He durst' infer that it was her,
Ner her infer 'twas him!

That night the Jolly Miller, says he, 'It's Wifey dear,
That cat o' yourn, I'd kill her!--her actions is so queer,--
She rubbin' 'ginst the grindstone-legs,
And yowlin' at the sky--
And I 'low the moon haint greener
Than the yaller of her eye!'

And as the Jolly Miller went chuckle-un to bed,
Was _Somepin_ jerked his piller from underneath his head!
'O Wife,' says he, on-easi-lee,
'Fetch here that lantern there!'
But _Somepin_ moans in thunder tones,
'_You tetch it ef you dare!_'

'Twas then the Jolly Miller he trimbled and he quailed--
And his wife choked until her breath come back, 'n' she _wailed!_
And '_O!'_ cried she, 'it is _the Flea_,
All white and pale and wann--
He's got you in his clutches, and
_He's bigger than a man!_'

'_Ho! ho! my Jolly Miller,' (fer 'twas the Flea, fer shore!)
'I reckon you'll not rack my bones ner scrunch 'em any more!_'
And then _the Ghost_ he grabbed him clos't,
With many a ghastly smile,
And from the doorstep stooped and hopped
About four hundred mile!


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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