Friday, November 26, 2004

The swimming hole...

In Swimming-time

Clouds above, as white as wool,
Drifting over skies as blue
As the eyes of beautiful
Children when they smile at you;

Groves of maple, elm, and beech,
With the sunshine sifted through
Branches, mingling each with each,
Dim with shade and bright with dew;

Stapling trees, and poplars hoar,
Hickory and sycamore,
And the drowsy dogwood bowed
Where the ripples laugh aloud,
And the crooning creek is stirred
To a gayety that now
Mates the warble of the bird
Teetering on the hazel-bough;

Grasses long and fine and fair
As your school-boy sweetheart’s hair,
Backward roached and twirled and twined
By the fingers of the wind;
Vines and mosses, interlinked
Down dark aisles and deep ravines,
Where the stream runs, willow-brinked,
Round a bend where some one leans
Faint and vague and indistinct
As the like reflected thing

In the current shimmering.
Childish voices farther on,
Where the truant stream has gone,
Vex the echoes of the wood
Till no word is understood,
Save that one is well aware
Happiness is hiding there.

There, in leafy coverts, nude
Little bodies poise and leap,
Spattering the solitude
And the silence everywhere -
Mimic monsters of the deep!
Wallowing in sandy shoals -
Plunging headlong out of sight;
And, with spurtings of delight,
Clutching hands, and slippery soles,
Climbing up the treacherous steep
Over which the spring-board spurns
Each again as lie returns.

Ah! the glorious carnival!
Purple lips and chattering teeth-
Eyes that burn-but, in beneath,
Every care beyond recall,
Every task forgotten quite -
And again, in dreams at night,
Dropping, drifting through it all!

-James Whitcomb Riley

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1 comment:

FCB said...

What to say. The master of childhood and nature poetry.
Wordsmithing so precise I found my self shivering from the brisk water.