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The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley

by James Whitcomb Riley

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1343182,518 (4.14)2
Few lives have left so vivid an impression upon a native environment as that of James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier Poet. His folksy, down-home rhymes are still enormously popular in his native state and beyond. This publication brings back into print the complete Riley repertoire of more than 1,000 poems, including such all-time favorites as "Little Orphant Annie" (far and away the best-loved of all Riley characters), "The Raggedy Man," "Our Hired Girl," "A Barefoot Boy," "The Bumblebee," "Granny," and "When the Frost Is on the Punkin." It is said that Indiana's best-known poet did not portray but invented the typical Hoosier. Applying imaginative skill, Riley altered and adapted the people around him to suit his purpose. As Jeannette Covert Nolan once put it, the figure who emerged was "a mellow, humorous rustic, a quaint, bucolic philosopher, unlettered but gifted with an earthy shrewdness, a peasant wisdom, a heart of gold, speaking a drawling, hybrid tongue, a dubious dialect as yet unidentified by any philologist." In his heyday Riley was famous all over the world. Though often called a children's poet, he actually wrote about children for adults, delighting in emotional reminders of an irretrievable past--perhaps one that never quite existed. Throughout his life Riley looked back wistfully and sentimentally upon his childhood days, turning the longings and unfulfilled dreams of youth into verse. So celebrated was he in Indiana that in many public elementary schools, students were required to memorize and recite one of his poems every week for admiring audiences of visiting parents. If I Knew What Poets Know If I knew what poets know, Did I know what poets do, If I knew what poets know, Would I write a rhyme Would I sing a song, I would find a theme Of the buds that never blow Sadder than the pigeon's coo Sweeter than the placid flow In the summer-time? When the days are long? Of the fairest dream: Would I sing of golden seeds Where I found a heart in pain, I would sing of love that lives Springing up in ironweeds? I would make it glad again; On the errors it forgives: And of rain-drop turned to snow, And the false should be the true, And the world would better grow If I knew what poets know? Did I know what poets do. If I knew what poets know. --James Whitcomb Riley… (more)
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Showing 3 of 3
I picked up this one last year, and reading it in parts; I am really liking it! I mean he’s not a very known poet, not listed on those elite clubs and lists, but I am awed by the simplicity. Sometimes it gets so casual, it suddenly gets deep.

To be honest, I started reading this just because I saw a picture of James dean holding the book, with a cigarette on other hand; I was sold then and there!
( )
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
I picked up this one last year, and reading it in parts; I am really liking it! I mean he’s not a very known poet, not listed on those elite clubs and lists, but I am awed by the simplicity. Sometimes it gets so casual, it suddenly gets deep.

To be honest, I started reading this just because I saw a picture of James dean holding the book, with a cigarette on other hand; I was sold then and there!
( )
  iSatyajeet | Nov 21, 2018 |
James Whitcomb Riley is not remembered as one of the great poets, when he is remembered at all. His poetry is not included in the Oxford Book of American Verse, nor is it in The Norton Anthology of Poetry or Harold Bloom's recent compilation of the greatest poems in English.
I had to search through several collections before I found four of his poems in a collection titled, America's Favorite Poems. Perhaps that is indicative of his standing as a poet. He is not considered great or even almost great by the critics and literary scholars, he is just loved by those Americans who enjoy beautiful poetry. This collection is great for its presentation of all of those poems.

James Whitcomb Riley was a poet of the latter half of the nineteenth century, born on October 7, 1849 in Greenfield, Indiana and died in 1916 having not lived to see the end of The Great War. His childhood and home were great influences on him. His most famous poems were about people and situations from his real life. His poems, "The Raggedy Man," and "Little Orphant Annie," are about a hired hand and an orphan girl who helped on the family farm. The farmhand and Annie told the local children stories that Riley immortalized in his work. His poems, though of epic proportion in many senses, told of everyday things.

Riley, like many poets, published his first works in newspapers. At first he wrote under a pen name, "Benjamin F. Johnson of Boone." He often wrote in his own dialect, appealing to the majority of people with his common style and words. Garland held Riley alike to Mark Twain, for his ability to use natural dialect in his writing and speech, though also possessing the ability to speak in a more precise and standard English. After the success of his written work, Riley took to the road again, and traveled around the country to recite his poems in every city. This earned him great popularity, and people were fascinated by his dialect and use of the language, as well as his cheerful sense of humor. For he was a happy poet, cheerful in his lyrical praise of Midwestern life and America. ( )
1 vote jwhenderson | Apr 24, 2011 |
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Few lives have left so vivid an impression upon a native environment as that of James Whitcomb Riley, the Hoosier Poet. His folksy, down-home rhymes are still enormously popular in his native state and beyond. This publication brings back into print the complete Riley repertoire of more than 1,000 poems, including such all-time favorites as "Little Orphant Annie" (far and away the best-loved of all Riley characters), "The Raggedy Man," "Our Hired Girl," "A Barefoot Boy," "The Bumblebee," "Granny," and "When the Frost Is on the Punkin." It is said that Indiana's best-known poet did not portray but invented the typical Hoosier. Applying imaginative skill, Riley altered and adapted the people around him to suit his purpose. As Jeannette Covert Nolan once put it, the figure who emerged was "a mellow, humorous rustic, a quaint, bucolic philosopher, unlettered but gifted with an earthy shrewdness, a peasant wisdom, a heart of gold, speaking a drawling, hybrid tongue, a dubious dialect as yet unidentified by any philologist." In his heyday Riley was famous all over the world. Though often called a children's poet, he actually wrote about children for adults, delighting in emotional reminders of an irretrievable past--perhaps one that never quite existed. Throughout his life Riley looked back wistfully and sentimentally upon his childhood days, turning the longings and unfulfilled dreams of youth into verse. So celebrated was he in Indiana that in many public elementary schools, students were required to memorize and recite one of his poems every week for admiring audiences of visiting parents. If I Knew What Poets Know If I knew what poets know, Did I know what poets do, If I knew what poets know, Would I write a rhyme Would I sing a song, I would find a theme Of the buds that never blow Sadder than the pigeon's coo Sweeter than the placid flow In the summer-time? When the days are long? Of the fairest dream: Would I sing of golden seeds Where I found a heart in pain, I would sing of love that lives Springing up in ironweeds? I would make it glad again; On the errors it forgives: And of rain-drop turned to snow, And the false should be the true, And the world would better grow If I knew what poets know? Did I know what poets do. If I knew what poets know. --James Whitcomb Riley

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