Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE LITTLE WOMAN, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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THE LITTLE WOMAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My little woman, of you I sing
Last Line: So closely here in mine.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Eyes; Love; Singing & Singers; Stars; Women


MY little woman, of you I sing
With a fervor all divine, --
For I know the clasp of the hands that cling
So closely here in mine.

Though the rosy palms I used to press
Are faded and worn with care,
And tremulous is the old caress That nestles in my hair, --

Your heart to me is a changeless page;
I have read it bit by bit,
From the dawn of love to the dusk of age, --
And the tale is Holy Writ.

Fold your eyes, -- for the twilight bends
As a mother o'er her child --
Even as when, in the long-lost Then,
You bent o'er ours and smiled. . . .

(Nay, but I spoke all unaware!
See! I am kneeling, too,
And with mine, dear, is the rose's prayer,
With a blur of tears and dew.)

But O little woman, I often grieve,
As I think of the vanished years
And trace the course of the cares that leave
Your features dim with tears:

I often grieve, for the frowns I wore
When the world seemed all untrue, --
When my hard, proud heart was sick and sore
And would not come to you!

I often grieve, as I hold your hand --
As I hold your hand to-night, --
That it takes so long to understand
The lesson of love aright!

But sing the song that I taught you once,
Dear little woman, as then
Away far back in the golden months: --
Sing me the song again!

For, as under the stars we loved of yore
When the nights of love were long,
Your poor, pale lips grow glad once more
And I kiss them into song: --

My little woman's hands are fair
As even the moonflowers be
When fairies creep in their depths and sleep
Till the sun leaps out o' the sea.

And O her eyes, they are spheres of light --
So brighter than stars are they,
The brightest day is the darkest night
When my little woman's away.

For my little woman has ever a tear
And a sigh when I am sad;
And I have a thousand smiles for her
When my little woman is glad.

But my little woman is strong and brave,
For all of her tears and sighs,
Her stanch little heart knows how to behave
Whenever the storms arise.

My little woman, of you I sing
With a fervor all divine, --
For I know the clasp of the hands that cling
So closely here in mine.





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