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James Whitcomb Riley

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

Uncle Mart's Poem


THE OLD SNOW-MAN

Ho! the old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!
He looked as fierce and sassy
As a soldier on parade!--
'Cause Noey, when he made him,
While we all wuz gone, you see,
He made him, jist a-purpose,
Jist as fierce as he could be!--
But when we all got _ust_ to him,
Nobody wuz afraid
Of the old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!

'Cause Noey told us 'bout him
And what he made him fer:--
He'd come to feed, that morning
He found we wuzn't here;
And so the notion struck him,
When we all come taggin' home
'Tud _s'prise_ us ef a' old Snow-Man
'Ud meet us when we come!
So, when he'd fed the stock, and milked,
And ben back home, and chopped
His wood, and et his breakfast, he
Jist grabbed his mitts and hopped
Right in on that-air old Snow-Man
That he laid out he'd make
Er bust a trace _a-tryin_'--jist
Fer old-acquaintance sake!--
But work like that wuz lots more fun.
He said, than when he played!
Ho! the old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!

He started with a big snow-ball,
And rolled it all around;
And as he rolled, more snow 'ud stick
And pull up off the ground.--
He rolled and rolled all round the yard--
'Cause we could see the _track_,
All wher' the snow come off, you know,
And left it wet and black.
He got the Snow-Man's _legs-part_ rolled--
In front the kitchen-door,--
And then he hat to turn in then
And roll and roll some more!--
He rolled the yard all round agin,
And round the house, at that--
Clean round the house and back to wher'
The blame legs-half wuz at!
He said he missed his dinner, too--
Jist clean fergot and stayed
There workin'. Ho! the old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!

And Noey said he hat to _hump_
To git the _top-half_ on
The _legs-half!_--When he _did_, he said,
His wind wuz purt'-nigh gone.--
He said, I jucks! he jist drapped down
There on the old porch-floor
And panted like a dog!--And then
He up! and rolled some more!--
The _last_ batch--that wuz fer his head,--
And--time he'd got it right
And clumb and fixed it on, he said--
He hat to quit fer night!--
And _then_, he said, he'd kep' right on
Ef they'd ben any _moon_
To work by! So he crawled in bed--
And _could_ a-slep' tel _noon_,
He wuz so plum wore out! he said,--
But it wuz washin'-day,
And hat to cut a cord o' wood
'Fore he could git away!

But, last, he got to work agin,--
With spade, and gouge, and hoe,
And trowel, too--(All tools 'ud do
What _Noey_ said, you know!)
He cut his eyebrows out like cliffs--
And his cheekbones and chin
Stuck _furder_ out--and his old _nose_
Stuck out as fur-agin!
He made his eyes o' walnuts,
And his whiskers out o' this
Here buggy-cushion stuffin'--_moss_,
The teacher says it is.
And then he made a' old wood'-gun,
Set keerless-like, you know,
Acrost one shoulder--kindo' like
Big Foot, er Adam Poe--
Er, mayby, Simon Girty,
The dinged old Renegade!
_Wooh!_ the old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!

And there he stood, all fierce and grim,
A stern, heroic form:
What was the winter blast to him,
And what the driving storm?--
What wonder that the children pressed
Their faces at the pane
And scratched away the frost, in pride
To look on him again?--
What wonder that, with yearning bold,
Their all of love and care
Went warmest through the keenest cold
To that Snow-Man out there!

But the old Snow-Man--
What a dubious delight
He grew at last when Spring came on
And days waxed warm and bright.--
Alone he stood--all kith and kin
Of snow and ice were gone;--
Alone, with constant teardrops in
His eyes and glittering on
His thin, pathetic beard of black--
Grief in a hopeless cause!--
Hope--hope is for the man that _dies_--
What for the man that _thaws!_
O Hero of a hero's make!--
Let _marble_ melt and fade,
But never _you_--you old Snow-Man
That Noey Bixler made!

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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