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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Cards-N-Time: An Old Sweetheart of Mine

  • By James Whitcomb Riley
    Published by Bobbs-Merrill Co.
    1902

    1. An Old Sweetheart of Mine!—Is this
    Her presence here with me,
    Or but a vain creation of
    A lover’s memory?
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  • By James Whitcomb Riley
    Published by Bobbs-Merrill Co.
    1902
     
    1. An Old Sweetheart of Mine!—Is this
    Her presence here with me,
    Or but a vain creation of
    A lover’s memory?
     
    A fair, illusive vision
    that would vanish into air
    Dared I even touch the silence
    With the whisper of a prayer?
     
    2. Nay, let me then believe in all
    The blended false and true—
    The semblance of the old love
    And the substance of the new
     
    The then of changeless sunny days—
    the now of shower and shine—
    But Love forever smiling,—
    as that old sweetheart of mine.
     
    3. This ever-restful sense of home,
    Though shouts ring in the hall—
    The easy-chair—the old bookshelves
    And prints along the wall;
     
    The rare Habanas in their box,
    or gaunt churchwarden-stem
    That often wags, above the jar,
    derisively at them
     
    4. As one who cons at evening
    O’er an album, all alone,
    And muses on the faces
    Of the friends that he has known,
     
    So I turn the leave of Fancy,
    till, in shadowy design,
    I find the smiling features of
    an old sweetheart of mine.
     
    5. The lamplight seems to glimmer
    With a flicker of surprise
    As I turn it low—to rest me
    Of the dazzle in my eyes
     
    And light my pipe in silence,
    save a sigh that seems to yoke,
    Its fate with my tobacco
    and to vanish with the smoke.
     
    6. ‘Tis a fragrant retrospection—
    For the loving thoughts that start
    Into being are like perfume
    From the blossom of the heart;
     
    And to dream the old dreams over
    is a luxury divine—
    When my truant fancies wander
    with that old sweetheart of mine.
     
    7. Though I hear beneath my study,
    Like a fluttering of wings,
    The voices of my children
    And the mother as she sings—
     
    Page 2 of 3 - I feel no twinge of conscience
    to deny me any theme
    When Care has cast her anchor
    In the harbor of a dream—
     
    8. In face, to speak in earnest,
    I believe it adds a charm
    To spice the good a trifle
    With a little dust of harm,—
     
    For I find an extra flavor
    In Memory’s mellow wine
    That makes me drink the deeper
    to that old sweetheart of mine.
     
    9. O childhood-days enchanted!
    O the magic of the Spring!—
    With all green boughs to blossom white,
    And all bluebirds to sing!
     
    When all the air, to toss and quaff,
    made life a jubilee
    And changed the children’s song and
    Laugh to shrieks of ecstasy.
     
    10. With eyes half closed in clouds that ooze
    From lips that taste, as well,
    The peppermint and cinnamon,
    I hear the old School-bell,
     
    And from “Recess” romp in again
    from “Blackman’s” Broken line,
    To—smile, behind my “lesson”,
    at that old sweetheart of mine.
     
    11. A face of lily-beauty,
    With a form of airy grace,
    Floats out of my tobacco
    As the “Genii” from the vase;
     
    And I thrill beneath the glances
    of a pair of azure eyes
    As glowing as the summer
    and as tender as the skies.
     
    12. I can see the pink sunbonnet
    And the little, checkered dress
    She wore when first I kissed her
    And she answered the caress
     
    With the written declaration that,
    “As surely as the vine
    Grew ‘round the stump,” she loved me—
    that old sweetheart of mine.
     
    13. Again I make her presents,
    in a really helpless way,—
    The big “Rhode Island Greening”—
    [I was hungry too, that day!—
     
    But I follow her from Spelling,
    with her hand behind her—so—
    And I slip the apple in it—
    and the Teacher doesn’t know!
     
    14. I give my treasures to her—all,—
    My pencil—blue-and-red;—
    Page 3 of 3 - And, if little girls played marbles,
    mine should all be hers, instead!—
     
    But she gave me her photograph,
    and printed “Ever Think”
    Across the back—in blue-and-red­—
    that old sweetheart of mine!
     
    15. Again I feel the pressure
    Of her slender little hand,
    As we used to talk together
    Of the future we had planned,—
     
    When I should be a poet,
    and with nothing else to do
    But write the tender verses
    that she set the music to....
     
    16. When we should live together
    In a cozy little cot
    Hid in a next of roses,
    With a fairy garden-spot,
     
    Where the vines were ever fruited,
    and the weather ever fine,
    And the birds were ever singing
    for that old sweetheart of mine....
     
    17. When I should be her lover
    Forever and a day,
    And she my faithful sweetheart
    Till the golden hair was gray;
     
    And we should be so happy
    that when either’s lips were dumb
    They would not smile in Heaven
    till the other’s kiss had come!
     
    18. But, ah! My dream is broken
    By a step upon the stair,
    And the door is softly opened,
    And—my wife is standing there:
     
    Yet with eagerness and rapture
    all my visions I resign,—
    To greet the living presence
    of that old sweetheart of mine.

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