Classic and Contemporary Poetry
WILLIAM PINKNEY FISHBACK, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: Say first he loved the dear home
Last Line: Shall he live longest in men's memories.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Subject(s): Books; Love; Reading
SAY first he loved the dear home-hearts, and then
He loved his honest fellow citizen --
He loved and honored him, in any post
Of duty where he served mankind the most.
All that he asked of him in humblest need
Was but to find him striving to succeed;
All that he asked of him in highest place
Was justice to the lowliest of his race.
When he found these conditions, proved and tried,
He owned he marveled, but was satisfied --
Relaxed in vigilance enough to smile
And, with his own wit, flay himself a while.
Often he liked real anger -- as, perchance,
The summer skies like storm-clouds and the glance
Of lightning -- for the clearer, purer blue
Of heaven, and the greener old earth, too.
All easy things to do he did with care,
Knowing the very common danger there;
In noblest conquest of supreme debate
The facts are simple as the victory great.
That which had been a task to hardiest minds
To him was as a pleasure, such as finds
The captive-truant, doomed to read throughout
The one lone book he really cares about.
Study revived him: Howsoever dim
And deep the problem, 'twas a joy to him
To solve it wholly; and he seemed as one
Refreshed and rested as the work was done.
And he had gathered, from all wealth of lore
That time has written, such a treasure-store,
His mind held opulence -- his speech the rare
Fair grace of sharing all his riches there --
Sharing with all, but with the greatest zest
Sharing with those who seemed the neediest;
The young he ever favored; and through these
Shall he live longest in men's memories.
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