Farmer Whipple--Bachelor

It's a mystery to see me--a man o' fifty-four,
Who's lived a cross old bachelor fer thirty year' and more--
A-lookin' glad and smilin'! And they's none o' you can say
That you can guess the reason why I feel so good to-day!

I must tell you all about it! But I'll have to deviate
A little in beginnin', so's to set the matter straight
As to how it comes to happen that I never took a wife--
Kindo' 'crawfish' from the Present to the Springtime of my life!

I was brought up in the country: Of a family of five--
Three brothers and a sister--I'm the only one alive,--
Fer they all died little babies; and 'twas one o' Mother's ways,
You know, to want a daughter; so she took a girl to raise.

The sweetest little thing she was, with rosy cheeks, and fat--
We was little chunks o' shavers then about as high as that!
But someway we sort a' SUITED-like! and Mother she'd declare
She never laid her eyes on a more lovin' pair

Than WE was! So we growed up side by side fer thirteen year',
And every hour of it she growed to me more dear!--
W'y, even Father's dyin', as he did, I do believe
Warn't more affectin' to me than it was to see her grieve!

I was then a lad o' twenty; and I felt a flash o' pride
In thinkin' all depended on ME now to pervide
Fer Mother and fer Mary; and I went about the place
With sleeves rolled up--and workin', with a mighty smilin'
face.--

Fer SOMEPIN' ELSE was workin'! but not a word I said
Of a certain sort o' notion that was runnin' through my head,--
'Some day I'd maybe marry, and a BROTHER'S love was one
Thing--a LOVER'S was another!' was the way the notion run!

I remember onc't in harvest, when the 'cradle-in' ' was done,
(When the harvest of my summers mounted up to twenty-one),
I was ridin' home with Mary at the closin' o' the day--
A-chawin' straws and thinkin', in a lover's lazy way!

And Mary's cheeks was burnin' like the sunset down the lane:
I noticed she was thinkin', too, and ast her to explain.
Well--when she turned and KISSED ME, WITH HER ARMS AROUND
ME--LAW!
I'd a bigger load o' Heaven than I had a load o' straw!

I don't p'tend to learnin', but I'll tell you what's a fac',
They's a mighty truthful sayin' somers in a' almanac--
Er SOMERS--'bout 'puore happiness'--perhaps some folks'll laugh
At the idy--'only lastin' jest two seconds and a half.'--

But it's jest as true as preachin'!--fer that was a SISTER'S
kiss,
And a sister's lovin' confidence a-tellin' to me this:--
'SHE was happy, BEIN' PROMISED TO THE SON O' FARMER BROWN.'--
And my feelin's struck a pardnership with sunset and went down!

I don't know HOW I acted, and I don't know WHAT I said,--
Fer my heart seemed jest a-turnin' to an ice-cold lump o' lead;
And the hosses kind o'glimmered before me in the road,
And the lines fell from my fingers--And that was all I knowed--

Fer--well, I don't know HOW long--They's a dim rememberence
Of a sound o' snortin' horses, and a stake-and-ridered fence
A-whizzin' past, and wheat-sheaves a-dancin' in the air,
And Mary screamin' 'Murder!' and a-runnin' up to where

_I_ was layin' by the roadside, and the wagon upside down
A-leanin' on the gate-post, with the wheels a-whirlin' roun'!
And I tried to raise and meet her, but I couldn't, with a vague
Sort o' notion comin' to me that I had a broken leg.

Well, the women nussed me through it; but many a time I'd sigh
As I'd keep a-gittin' better instid o' goin' to die,
And wonder what was left ME worth livin' fer below,
When the girl I loved was married to another, don't you know!

And my thoughts was as rebellious as the folks was good and kind
When Brown and Mary married--Railly must 'a' been my MIND
Was kind o' out o' kilter!--fer I hated Brown, you see,
Worse'n PIZEN--and the feller whittled crutches out fer ME--

And done a thousand little ac's o' kindness and respec'--
And me a-wishin' all the time that I could break his neck!
My relief was like a mourner's when the funeral is done
When they moved to Illinois in the Fall o' Forty-one.

Then I went to work in airnest--I had nothin' much in view
But to drownd out rickollections--and it kep' me busy, too!
But I slowly thrived and prospered, tel Mother used to say
She expected yit to see me a wealthy man some day.

Then I'd think how little MONEY was, compared to happiness--
And who'd be left to use it when I died I couldn't guess!
But I've still kep' speculatin' and a-gainin' year by year,
Tel I'm payin' half the taxes in the county, mighty near!

Well!--A year ago er better, a letter comes to hand
Astin
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James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley was an American writer, poet, and best-selling author. During his lifetime he was known as the "Hoosier Poet" and "Children's Poet" for his dialect works and his children's poetry respectively. more…

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"Farmer Whipple--Bachelor" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 9 Apr. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/20877/farmer-whipple--bachelor>.

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