James Whitcomb Riley

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

We Must Get Home


We must get home! How could we stray like this?--
So far from home, we know not where it is,--
Only in some fair, apple-blossomy place
Of children's faces--and the mother's face--
We dimly dream it, till the vision clears
Even in the eyes of fancy, glad with tears.

We must get home--for we have been away
So long, it seems forever and a day!
And O so very homesick we have grown,
The laughter of the world is like a moan
In our tired hearing, and its song as vain,--
We must get home--we must get home again!

We must get home! With heart and soul we yearn
To find the long-lost pathway, and return!...
The child's shout lifted from the questing band
Of old folk, faring weary, hand in hand,
But faces brightening, as if clouds at last
Were showering sunshine on us as we passed.

We must get home: It hurts so staying here,
Where fond hearts must be wept out tear by tear,
And where to wear wet lashes means, at best,
When most our lack, the least our hope of rest--
When most our need of joy, the more our pain--
We must get home--we must get home again!

We must get home--home to the simple things--
The morning-glories twirling up the strings
And bugling color, as they blared in blue-
And-white o'er garden-gates we scampered through;
The long grape-arbor, with its under-shade
Blue as the green and purple overlaid.

We must get home: All is so quiet there:
The touch of loving hands on brow and hair--
Dim rooms, wherein the sunshine is made mild--
The lost love of the mother and the child
Restored in restful lullabies of rain,--
We must get home--we must get home again!

The rows of sweetcorn and the China beans
Beyond the lettuce-beds where, towering, leans
The giant sunflower in barbaric pride
Guarding the barn-door and the lane outside;
The honeysuckles, midst the hollyhocks,
That clamber almost to the martin-box.

We must get home, where, as we nod and drowse,
Time humors us and tiptoes through the house,
And loves us best when sleeping baby-wise,
With dreams--not tear-drops--brimming our clenched eyes,--
Pure dreams that know nor taint nor earthly stain--
We must get home--we must get home again!

We must get home! The willow-whistle's call
Trills crisp and liquid as the waterfall--
Mocking the trillers in the cherry-trees
And making discord of such rhymes as these,
That know nor lilt nor cadence but the birds
First warbled--then all poets afterwards.

We must get home; and, unremembering there
All gain of all ambition otherwhere,
Rest--from the feverish victory, and the crown
Of conquest whose waste glory weighs us down.--
Fame's fairest gifts we toss back with disdain--
We must get home--we must get home again!

We must get home again--we must--we must!--
(Our rainy faces pelted in the dust)
Creep back from the vain quest through endless strife
To find not anywhere in all of life
A happier happiness than blest us then ...
We must get home--we must get home again!

Submitted: Friday, April 09, 2010

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