Monday, June 02, 2008

My Dancin'-Days is Over

The following poem is about an old farmer driving his team of horses to town to deliver his hay; when he heard an old man fiddling and it takes him back in time. The dialect (almost like a riddle), is difficult to read and the terms are antiquated, but if you catch his spell, it is rich.

What is it in old fiddle-chunes
'at makes me ketch my breath
And ripples up my backbone tel I'm
tickled most to death? --
Kind o' like that sweet-sick feelin', in
the long sweep of a swing,
The first time you ever swung in, with
yer first sweetheart, I jing!--

I never understood it -- and I s'pose I
never can,--
But right in town here, yisterd'y I
heard a pore blind man
A-fiddlin' old "Gray Eagle" -- And
sir! I jes' stopped my load
O' hay and listened at him - yes,
and watched the way he "bow'd,"-
and back I went, plum forty year'
with boys and girls I knowed
and loved, long 'fore my dancin'
days wuz over! --

At high noon in yer city, - with yer
blame' Magnetic cars
A-hummin' and a-scretchin' past - and
bands and G.A.R.'s
A-marchin' -and fire-ingines, - All
the noise, the whole street through,
Wuz lost on me! - I only heard a
whipperwill er two,
It 'peared-like, kind 'o callin' 'crost
the darkness and the dew,
Them nights afore my dancin'-
days wuz over.

The woods 'ats all be'n cut away wuz
growin' same as then;
The youngsters all wuz boys ag'in 'at's
now all oldish men;
And all the girls 'at then wuz girls --
I saw 'em, one and all,
As plain as then -- the middle-sized
the short-and-fat, and tall --
And 'peared-like, I danced "Tucker"
fer 'em up and downd the wall
Jes' like afore my dancin'-days wuz

The fact is, I wuz dazed so 'at I clean
fergot jes' where
I railly wuz, -- a blockin' streets, and
still a-standin' there;
I heard the po'leece yellin', but my
ears wuz kind o' blurred--
My eyes, too, fer the odds o' that,--
bekase I thought I heard
My wife 'ats dead, a-laughin'-like,
and jokin', word fer word
Jes' like afore her dancin'-days wuz

James Whitcomb Riley - photographer unknown

No comments: