Sunday, August 22, 2010

An Old Sweetheart of Mine

An Old Sweetheart of Mine

by James Whitcomb Riley

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 leaves of fancy till, in shadowy design,
I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine.

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.

'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 fancy wanders with that old sweetheart of mine.

Though I hear, beneath my study, like a fluttering of wings,
The voices of my children, and the mother as she sings,
I feel no twinge of conscience to deny me any theme
When Care has cast her anchor in the harbor of a dream.

In fact, 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.

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.

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 sweet heart of mine.

And 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:

When we should live together in a cozy little cot
Hid in a nest 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:

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.

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.


Jessica Hall said...

Ooooo I like that Gretchen! I like that a lot! That is a sweet poem. I love poems and I try to write them sometimes....they don't turn out usually. :P Well, gotta scoot!
Love, Jessica

Taylor said...

Aw, I love that poem, Gretchen! It is so sweet. I especially love the last stanza. I wish I could find more poems like that.
Thanks for posting it, it put a big smile on my face. =)


Briana Monet Mahoney said...

Hmmmmm….have you been thinking of an old sweetheart, Gretchen dear ? Sorry, I dearly love to tease :). I like that poem too. If I ever get anxious waiting for the “living presence” of my sweetheart that is to be forever and always, I say this one to myself.

Serene I fold my arms and wait,
Nor care for wind, or tide, or sea:
I rave no more ’gainst time or fate
For lo! my own shall come to me.

I stay my haste, I make delays,
For what avails this eager pace?
I stand amid the eternal ways,
And what is mine shall know my face.

Asleep, awake, by night or day,
The friends I seek are seeking me;
No wind can drive my bark astray,
Nor change the tide of destiny.

What matter if I stand alone?
I wait with joy the coming years;
My heart shall reap where it has sown,
And garner up its fruit of tears.

The waters know their own, and draw
The brook that springs in yonder height;
So flows the good with equal law
Unto the soul of pure delight.

The floweret nodding in the wind
Is ready plighted to the bee;
And, maiden, why that look unkind?
For lo! thy lover seeketh thee.

The stars come nightly to the sky;
The tidal wave unto the sea;
Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high
Can keep my own away from me.

-John Burroughs

Isn’t it wonderful to have God up there planning our future and making everything work out just right?

Gretchen Emily Wolaver said...

Hey Briana!

That is a beautiful poem! I love poetry so much. It's such a beautiful way to express your thoughts. It's a great challenge to write, too! =D

Hailey Renée said...

That is a beautiful poem! So sweet. Somehow it reminds me of Willa Cather. Speaking of which, have you ever read any of her work? I've read her short story, A Wagner Matinee, and now for bookwork I am reading My Antonia. I think you would like either of those. Her prose is just so simple and sweet.


Gretchen Emily Wolaver said...

Hi Hailey!

I have read some Willa Cather. She's very good, though slightly too depressed for my taste. =D I read 'O Pioneers!' and 'The Song of the Lark'. I would definitely recommend the latter. Pioneers was super sad, but still very well written and touching. I haven't read My Antonia, but I've heard that it's really good. I want to read it! =)

Hailey Renée said...


I would definitely agree that Cather's style has a depressed feel about it. It has a sad nostalgic tone. I might read Pioneers once I am through with Antonia. Right now, I keep saying that I will read a lot of books, and I never get around to doing it, so I ought to get started on something soon!