(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

My Dancin'-Days Is Over

What is it in old fiddle-chunes 'at makes me ketch my breath
And ripples up my backbone tel I'm tickled most to death?--
Kindo' like that sweet-sick feelin', in the long sweep of a swing,
The first you ever swung in, with yer first sweet-heart, i jing!--
Yer first picnic--yer first ice-cream--yer first o' _ever'thing_
'At happened 'fore yer dancin'-days wuz over!

I never understood it--and I s'pose I never can,--
But right in town here, yisterd'y, I heerd a pore blindman
A-fiddlin' old 'Gray Eagle'--_And_-sir! I jes stopped my load
O' hay and listened at him--yes, and watched the way he 'bow'd,'--
And back I went, plum forty year', with boys and girls I knowed
And loved, long 'fore my dancin'-days wuz over!--

At high noon in yer city,--with yer blame Magnetic-Cars
A-hummin' and a-screetchin' past--and bands and G.A.R.'s
A-marchin'--and fire-ingines.--_All_ the noise, the whole street through,
Wuz lost on me!--I only heerd a whipperwill er two,
It 'peared-like, kindo' callin' 'crost the darkness and the dew,
Them nights afore my dancin'-days wuz over.

T'uz Chused'y-night at Wetherell's, er We'nsd'y-night at Strawn's,
Er Fourth-o'-July-night at uther Tomps's house er John's!--
With old Lew Church from Sugar Crick, with that old fiddle he
Had sawed clean through the Army, from Atlanty to the sea--
And yit he'd fetched, her home ag'in, so's he could play fer me
One't more afore my dancin'-days wuz over!

The woods 'at's all ben cut away wuz growin' same as then;
The youngsters all wuz boys ag'in 'at's now all oldish men;
And all the girls 'at _then_ wuz girls--I saw 'em, one and all,
As _plain_ as then--the middle-sized, the short-and-fat, and tall--
And, 'peared-like, I danced 'Tucker' fer 'em up and down the wall
Jes like afore my dancin' days wuz over!

* * * * *

Yer _po_-leece they can holler 'Say! _you_, Uncle! drive ahead!--
You can't use _all_ the right-o'-way!'--fer that wuz what they said!--
But, jes the same,--in spite of all 'at you call 'interprise
And prog-gress of _you_-folks Today,' we're all of _fambly-ties_--
We're all got feelin's fittin' fer the _tears_ 'at's in our eyes
Er the _smiles_ afore our dancin'-days is over.

by James Whitcomb Riley

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