A Worn-Out Pencil

James Whitcomb Riley 1849 (Greenfield) – 1916 (Indianapolis)



Welladay!
Here I lay
You at rest--all worn away,
O my pencil, to the tip
Of our old companionship!

Memory
Sighs to see
What you are, and used to be,
Looking backward to the time
When you wrote your earliest rhyme!--

When I sat
Filing at
Your first point, and dreaming that
Your initial song should be
Worthy of posterity.

With regret
I forget
If the song be living yet,
Yet remember, vaguely now,
It was honest, anyhow.

You have brought
Me a thought--
Truer yet was never taught,--
That the silent song is best,
And the unsung worthiest.

So if I,
When I die,
May as uncomplainingly
Drop aside as now you do,
Write of me, as I of you:--

Here lies one
Who begun
Life a-singing, heard of none;
And he died, satisfied,
With his dead songs by his side.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

44 sec read
50

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABBCC DDDEE AAADA AAAFF AAAAA XABAX GGGAA
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 721
Words 147
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

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…

All James Whitcomb Riley poems | James Whitcomb Riley Books

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