James Whitcomb Riley

7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana

The Frog

Who am I but the Frog--the Frog!
My realm is the dark bayou,
And my throne is the muddy and moss-grown log
That the poison-vine clings to--
And the blacksnakes slide in the slimy tide
Where the ghost of the moon looks blue.

What am I but a King--a King!--
For the royal robes I wear--
A scepter, too, and a signet-ring,
As vassals and serfs declare:
And a voice, god wot, that is equaled not
In the wide world anywhere!

I can talk to the Night--the Night!--
Under her big black wing
She tells me the tale of the world outright,
And the secret of everything;
For she knows you all, from the time you crawl,
To the doom that death will bring.

The Storm swoops down, and he blows--and blows,--
While I drum on his swollen cheek,
And croak in his angered eye that glows
With the lurid lightning's streak;
While the rushes drown in the watery frown
That his bursting passions leak.

And I can see through the sky--the sky--
As clear as a piece of glass;
And I can tell you the how and why
Of the things that come to pass--
And whether the dead are there instead,
Or under the graveyard grass.

To your Sovereign lord all hail--all hail!--
To your Prince on his throne so grim!
Let the moon swing low, and the high stars trail
Their heads in the dust to him;
And the wide world sing: Long live the King,
And grace to his royal whim!
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