Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE YOUNG OLD MAN, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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THE YOUNG OLD MAN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Mamma is a widow: there's only
Last Line: "good morning!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Christmas; Family Life; Mothers; Widows & Widowers; Nativity, The; Relatives


MAMMA is a widow: There's only us three --
Our pretty Mamma, little sister, and me:
And we've come to live in this new neighborhood
Where all seems so quiet, old-fashioned and good.
Mamma sits and sews at the window, and I --
I'm out at the gate when an old man goes by --
Such a lovely old man, -- though I can't tell you why,
Unless it's his greeting, -- "Good morning!
Good morning! good morning!" the old man will say, --
"Fine bracing weather we're having to-day! --
And how's little brother --
And sister -- and mother? --
So dear to each other! --
Good morning!"

The old man goes by, in his glossy high-hat,
And stripe-trousers creased, and all turned-up, at that,
And his glancing nose-glasses -- and pleasantest eyes,
As he smiles on me, always in newer surprise:
And though his mustache is as white as the snow,
He wears it waxed out and all pointed, you know,
And gloves, and high collar and bright, jaunty bow,
And stylish umbrella. -- "Good morning!
Good morning! good morning!" the old man will say, --
"Fine falling weather we're promised to-day! --
And how's little brother --
And sister -- and mother? --
So fond of each other! --
Good morning!"

. . . . . . .

It's Christmas! -- it's Christmas! and oh, but we're gay!
The postman's been here, and Ma says, "Run and play: --
You must leave your Mamma to herself for a while!"
And so sweet is her voice, and so tender her smile! --
And she looks so pretty and happy and -- Well! --
She's just too delicious for language to tell! --
So Sis hugs her more -- and I answer the bell, --
And there in the doorway -- "Good morning! --
Good morning! good morning! good morning, I say! --
Fine Christmas weather we're having to-day! --
And how's little brother --
Dear sister -- er, ruther --
Why, here is your mother . . .
Good morning!"





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