James Whitcomb Riley

7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana

Babyhood

Heigh-ho! Babyhood! Tell me where you linger:
Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
Back to the Lotus lands of the far-away.

Turn back the leaves of life; don't read the story,--
Let's find the _pictures_, and fancy all the rest:--
We can fill the written pages with a brighter glory
Than Old Time, the story-teller, at his very best!

Turn to the brook, where the honeysuckle, tipping
O'er its vase of perfume spills it on the breeze,
And the bee and humming-bird in ecstacy are sipping
From the fairy flagons of the blooming locust trees.

Turn to the lane, where we used to 'teeter-totter,'
Printing little foot-palms in the mellow mold,
Laughing at the lazy cattle wading in the water
Where the ripples dimple round the buttercups of gold:

Where the dusky turtle lies basking on the gravel
Of the sunny sandbar in the middle-tide,
And the ghostly dragonfly pauses in his travel
To rest like a blossom where the water-lily died.

Heigh-ho! Babyhood! Tell me where you linger:
Let's toddle home again, for we have gone astray;
Take this eager hand of mine and lead me by the finger
Back to the Lotus lands of the far-away.
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