Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE USED-TO-BE, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE USED-TO-BE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Beyond the purple, hazy trees
Last Line: The lips of used-to-be.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Dreams; Fantasy; Loss; Summer; Trees; Nightmares


BEYOND the purple, hazy trees
Of summer's utmost boundaries;
Beyond the sands -- beyond the seas --
Beyond the range of eyes like these,
And only in the reach of the
Enraptured gaze of Memory,
There lies a land, long lost to me, --
The land of Used-to-be!

A land enchanted -- such as swung
In golden seas when sirens clung
Along their dripping brinks, and sung
To Jason in that mystic tongue
That dazed men with its melody --
O such a land, with such a sea
Kissing its shores eternally,
Is the fair Used-to-be.

A land where music ever girds
The air with belts of singing-birds,
And sows all sounds with such sweet words,
That even in the low of herds
A meaning lives so sweet to me,
Lost laughter ripples limpidly
From lips brimmed over with the glee
Of rare old Used-to-be.

Lost laughter, and the whistled tunes
Of boyhood's mouth of crescent runes,
That rounded, through long afternoons,
To serenading plenilunes --
When starlight fell so mistily
That, peering up from bended knee,
I dreamed 'twas bridal drapery
Snowed over Used-to-be.

O land of love and dreamy thoughts,
And shining fields, and shady spots
Of coolest, greenest grassy plots,
Embossed with wild forget-me-nots! --
And all ye blooms that longingly
Lift your fair faces up to me
Out of the past, I kiss in ye
The lips of Used-to-be.





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