James Whitcomb Riley (7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)
When Mother Combed My Hair
When Memory, with gentle hand,
Has led me to that foreign land
Of childhood days, I long to be
Again the boy on bended knee,
With head a-bow, and drowsy smile
Hid in a mother's lap the while,
With tender touch and kindly care,
She bends above and combs my hair.
Ere threats of Time, or ghosts of cares
Had paled it to the hue it wears,
Its tangled threads of amber light
Fell o'er a forehead, fair and white,
That only knew the light caress
Of loving hands, or sudden press
Of kisses that were sifted there
The times when mother combed my hair.
But its last gleams of gold have slipped
Away; and Sorrow's manuscript
Is fashioned of the snowy brow--
So lined and underscored now
That you, to see it, scarce would guess
It e'er had felt the fond caress
Of loving lips, or known the care
Of those dear hands that combed my hair.
. . . . . . . .
I am so tired! Let me be
A moment at my mother's knee;
One moment--that I may forget
The trials waiting for me yet:
One moment free from every pain--
O! Mother! Comb my hair again!
And I will, oh, so humbly bow,
For I've a wife that combs it now.
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