James Whitcomb Riley

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

When Bessie Died - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

If from your own the dimpled hands had slipped,
And ne'er would nestle in your palm again;
If the white feet into the grave had tripped--'

When Bessie died--
We braided the brown hair, and tied
It just as her own little hands
Had fastened back the silken strands
A thousand times-- the crimson bit
Of ribbon woven into it
That she had worn with childish pride--
Smoothed down the dainty bow-- and cried
When Bessie died.

When Bessie died--
We drew the nursery blinds aside,
And as the morning in the room
Burst like a primrose into bloom,
Her pet canary's cage we hung
Where she might hear him when he sung--
And yet not any note he tried,
Though she lay listening folded-eyed.

When Bessie died--
We writhed in prayer unsatisfied:
We begged of God, and He did smile
In silence on us all the while;
And we did see Him, through our tears,
Enfolding that fair form of hers,
She laughing back against His love
The kisses had nothing of--
And death to us He still denied,
When Bessie died--
When Bessie died.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, April 9, 2010



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