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´╗┐Title: An Old Sweetheart of Mine
Author: Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "An Old Sweetheart of Mine" ***

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An Old Sweetheart of Mine


James Whitcomb Riley


Drawings by
Howard Chandler Christy

Decorations by
Virginia Keep

The Bobbs-Merrill Company
Publishers Indianapolis

Copyright, 1888-1899-1902
James Whitcomb Riley

Copyright, 1902
The Bowen-Merrill Company



An Old Sweetheart of Mine



INSCRIBED

To GEORGE C. HITT

The beginning of whose steadfast friendship was marked by the first
publication of these verses which now, expanded by writer, honored by
publisher and masterfully graced by artist, seem to be a worthier symbol
of the author's grateful and affectionate regard for his earliest
friend



List of Illustrations


I      Frontispiece--An Old Sweetheart of Mine.

II     A fair, illusive vision that would vanish into air

III    The _then_ of changeless sunny days--The _now_ of shower and shine

IV     The old bookshelves and prints along the wall

V      I find the smiling features of an old sweetheart of mine

VI     Its fate with my tobacco and to vanish with the smoke

VII    When my truant fancies wander with that old sweetheart of mine

VIII   The voices of my children and the mother as she sings

IX     For I find an extra flavor in Memory's mellow wine

X      O childhood days enchanted! O the magic of the spring

XI     To--smile, behind my lesson, at that old sweetheart of mine

XII    A face of lily-beauty, with a form of airy grace

XIII   When first I kissed her, and she answered the caress

XIV    I slipped the apple in it--and the teacher didn't know

XV     She gave me her _photograph_, and printed "Ever Thine"

XVI    And again I feel the pressure of her slender little hand

XVII   Where the vines were ever fruited, and the weather ever fine

XVIII  And she my faithful sweetheart till the golden hair was gray

XIX    The door is softly opened, and--my wife is standing there


    _The ordered intermingling_
      _of the real and the dream,--_
    _The mill above the river,_
      _and the mist above the stream;_
    _The life of ceaseless labor,_
      _brave with song and cheery call--_
    _The radiant skies of evening,_
      _with its rainbow o'er us all._


    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?

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    '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.

[Illustration]

    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--

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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!

[Illustration]

    I give my _treasures_ to her--all,--
      my pencil--blue-and-red;--
    And, if little girls played marbles,
      _mine_ should all be _hers_, instead!--

    But _she_ gave me her _photograph_,
      and printed "Ever Thine"
    Across the back--in blue-and-red--
      that old sweetheart of mine!

[Illustration]

    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....

[Illustration]

    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....

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]

    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.

[Illustration]





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