James Whitcomb Riley

7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana

Philiper Flash

Young Philiper Flash was a promising lad,
His intentions were good--but oh, how sad
For a person to think
How the veriest pink
And bloom of perfection may turn out bad.
Old Flash himself was a moral man,
And prided himself on a moral plan,
Of a maxim as old
As the calf of gold,
Of making that boy do what he was told.

And such a good mother had Philiper Flash;
Her voice was as soft as the creamy plash
Of the milky wave
With its musical lave
That gushed through the holes of her patent churn-dash;--
And the excellent woman loved Philiper so,
She could cry sometimes when he stumped his toe,--
And she stroked his hair
With such motherly care
When the dear little angel learned to swear.

Old Flash himself would sometimes say
That his wife had 'such a ridiculous way,--
She'd, humor that child
Till he'd soon be sp'iled,
And then there'd be the devil to pay!'
And the excellent wife, with a martyr's look,
Would tell old Flash himself 'he took
No notice at all
Of the bright-eyed doll
Unless when he spanked him for getting a fall!'

Young Philiper Flash, as time passed by,
Grew into 'a boy with a roguish eye':
He could smoke a cigar,
And seemed by far
The most promising youth.--'He's powerful sly,
Old Flash himself once told a friend,
'Every copper he gets he's sure to spend--
And,' said he, 'don't you know
If he keeps on so
What a crop of wild oats the boy will grow!'

But his dear good mother knew Philiper's ways
So--well, she managed the money to raise;
And old Flash himself
Was 'laid on the shelf,'
(In the manner of speaking we have nowadays).
For 'gracious knows, her darling child,
If he went without money he'd soon grow wild.'
So Philiper Flash
With a regular dash
'Swung on to the reins,' and went 'slingin' the cash.'

As old Flash himself, in his office one day,
Was shaving notes in a barberous way,
At the hour of four
Death entered the door
And shaved the note on his life, they say.
And he had for his grave a magnificent tomb,
Though the venturous finger that pointed 'Gone Home,'
Looked white and cold
From being so bold,
As it feared that a popular lie was told.

Young Philiper Flash was a man of style
When he first began unpacking the pile
Of the dollars and dimes
Whose jingling chimes
Had clinked to the tune of his father's smile;
And he strewed his wealth with such lavish hand,
His rakish ways were the talk of the land,
And gossipers wise
Sat winking their eyes
(A certain foreboding of fresh surprise).

A 'fast young man' was Philiper Flash,
And wore 'loud clothes' and a weak mustache,
And 'done the Park,'
For an 'afternoon lark,'
With a very fast horse of 'remarkable dash.'
And Philiper handled a billiard-cue
About as well as the best he knew,
And used to say
'He could make it pay
By playing two or three games a day.'

And Philiper Flash was his mother's joy,
He seemed to her the magic alloy
That made her glad,
When her heart was sad,
With the thought that 'she lived for her darling boy.'
His dear good mother wasn't aware
How her darling boy relished a 'tare.'--
She said 'one night
He gave her a fright
By coming home late and ACTING tight.'

Young Philiper Flash, on a winterish day,
Was published a bankrupt, so they say--
And as far as I know
I suppose it was so,
For matters went on in a singular way;
His excellent mother, I think I was told,
Died from exposure and want and cold;
And Philiper Flash,
With a horrible slash,
Whacked his jugular open and went to smash.
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