An’ The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes, An’ tells ’em, ef I be good, sometimes

by chuckofish

Today is the birthday of James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916) who was an American writer, poet, and best-selling author, frequently referred to as the “Hoosier Poet.”

Statue in Greenfield, Indiana

Statue in Greenfield, Indiana

I suppose no one reads his poems anymore. (Although–surprise!– his books are still in print.)

I remember my mother reading them aloud to us with great gusto. There was Little Orphant Annie

Little Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
An’ wash the cups an’ saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’
sweep,
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-
an-keep;
An’ all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun,
A-listenin’ to the witch-tales ‘at Annie tells about,
An’ the Gobble-uns ‘at gits you
Ef you
Don’t
Watch
Out!

and The Raggedy Man

O The Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
An’ he’s the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An’ waters the horses, an’ feeds ’em hay…

Indeed, they were fun to read and fun to listen to. That is no doubt why Riley was among the most popular writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

So join me in a toast to the forgotten Hoosier poet, James Whitcomb Riley. (Perhaps with one of these.)

I leave you with this picture of another famous Hoosier reading some JWR poetry for fun and personal enrichment.

dean riley

Enjoy your Wednesday–and don’t let the Gobble-uns git you!