Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TOM JOHNSON'S QUIT, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY



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TOM JOHNSON'S QUIT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: A passel o' the boys last night
Last Line: "tom johnson's quit!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Drinks & Drinking; Wine


A PASSEL o' the boys last night --
An' me amongst 'em -- kind o' got
To talkin' Temper'nce left an' right,
An' workin' up "blue-ribbon," hot;
An' while we was a-countin' jes'
How many hed gone into hit
An' signed the pledge, some feller says, --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"

We laughed, of course -- 'cause Tom, you know,
Has spiled more whisky, boy an' man,
And seed more trouble, high an' low,
Than any chap but Tom could stand:
And so, says I, "He's too nigh dead
Fer Temper'nce to benefit!"
The feller sighed ag'in, and said --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"

We all liked Tom, an' that was why
We sort o' simmered down ag'in,
And ast the feller ser'ously
Ef he wa'n't tryin' to draw us in:
He shuck his head -- tuck off his hat --
Helt up his hand an' opened hit,
An' says, says he, "I'll swear to that --
Tom Johnson's quit!"

Well, we was stumpt, an' tickled, too, --
Because we knowed ef Tom hed signed
There wa'n't no man 'at wore the "blue"
'At was more honester inclined:
An' then and there we kind o' riz, --
The hull dern gang of us 'at bit --
An' th'owed our hats and let 'er whiz, --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"

I've heerd 'em holler when the balls
Was buzzin' 'round us wus'n bees,
An' when the ole flag on the walls
Was flappin' o'er the enemy's,
I've heerd a-many a wild "hooray"
'At made my heart git up an' git --
But Lord! -- to hear 'em shout that way! --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"

But when we saw the chap 'at fetched
The news wa'n't jinin' in the cheer,
But stood there solemn-like, an' reched
An' kind o' wiped away a tear,
We someway sort o' stilled ag'in,
And listened -- I kin hear him yit,
His voice a-wobblin' with his chin, --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"

"I hain't a-givin' you no game --
I wisht I was! . . . An hour ago,
This operator -- what's his name --
The one 'at works at night, you know? --
Went out to flag that Ten Express,
And sees a man in front of hit
Th'ow up his hands an' stagger -- yes, --
"Tom Johnson's quit!"





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