The Raggedy Man

Original Text: 
James Whitcomb Riley, Complete Works, Memorial edn. in 10 vols. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916): VI, 1458-61. PS 2700 F16 Robarts Library.
1O the Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;
2An' he's the goodest man ever you saw!
3He comes to our house every day,
4An' waters the horses, an' feeds 'em hay;
6When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
8He milks the cow fer 'Lizabuth Ann. --
9   Ain't he a' awful good Raggedy Man?
10      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
11W'y, The Raggedy Man -- he's ist so good,
12He splits the kindlin' an' chops the wood;
13An' nen he spades in our garden, too,
14An' does most things 'at boys can't do. --
15He clumbed clean up in our big tree
16An' shooked a' apple down fer me --
17An' 'nother 'n', too, fer 'Lizabuth Ann --
18An' 'nother 'n', too, fer The Raggedy Man. --
19   Ain't he a' awful kind Raggedy Man?
20      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
21An' The Raggedy Man one time say he
23An' et 'em -- all ist roast' an' hot! --
25Afire one time an' all burn' down
26On "The Smoot Farm," 'bout four mile from town --
27On "The Smoot Farm"! Yes -- an' the hired han'
28'At worked there nen 'uz The Raggedy Man! --
30      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
31The Raggedy Man's so good an' kind
33Ever'thing 'at you make him do --
34An' won't run off -- 'less you want him to!
39Nen he skeered ag'in at a' old tin can ...
40   Whoa! y' old runaway Raggedy Man!
41      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
42An' The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
43An' tells 'em, ef I be good, sometimes:
48'At lives 'way deep in the ground, an' can
49Turn into me, er 'Lizabuth Ann!
50Er Ma, er Pa, er The Raggedy Man!
51   Ain't he a funny old Raggedy Man?
52      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
53An' wunst, when The Raggedy Man come late,
54An' pigs ist root' thue the garden-gate,
56"Old Bear-shooter'll shoot 'em dead!"
57An' race' an' chase' 'em, an' they'd ist run
59An' go "Bang! -- Bang!" nen 'tend he stan'
60An' load up his gun ag'in! Raggedy Man!
61   He's an old Bear-shooter Raggedy Man!
62      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
63An' sometimes The Raggedy Man lets on
64We're little prince-children, an' old King's gone
65To git more money, an' lef' us there --
66And Robbers is ist thick ever'where;
68The Raggedy Man he'll come and "'splore
69The Castul-halls," an' steal the "gold" --
70An' steal us, too, an' grab an' hold
71An' pack us off to his old "Cave"! -- An'
73      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!
74The Raggedy Man -- one time, when he
76Says "When you're big like your Pa is,
77Air you go' to keep a fine store like his --
78An' be a rich merchunt -- an' wear fine clothes? --
79Er what air you go' to be, goodness knows?"
80An' nen he laughed at 'Lizabuth Ann,
82   I'm ist go' to be a nice Raggedy Man!"
83      Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

Notes

5] ist: just. Back to Line
7] nen: then.
ef: if.
our hired girl: Elizabeth Ann (cf. 8 and Riley's poem "The Hired Girl"). Back to Line
22] rambos: rambutans, a red, spiny, lichi-like fruit (?). Back to Line
24] corn-crib: manger for corn (and presumably fruit). Back to Line
29] beatin'est: "beatingest," i.e., `the one to beat others most at what he does.' Back to Line
32] be our "horsey": play at being our \horse.
haw: turn left (note courtesy of Scott Davis).
mind: agree to do. Back to Line
35] wunst: once. Back to Line
36] skeered: scared.
'menced: commenced. Back to Line
37] rared up: reared up (like a frightened horse). Back to Line
38] Purt' nigh: pretty near. Back to Line
44] Griffuns: griffins, a creature with the head, front body, and wings of an eagle, and the hind legs and tail of a lion. Back to Line
45] Squidgicum-Squees: something short and plump ("squidgy"), maybe like a squid, and perhaps sounding like a "squee gee" (squeeking as its rubber blade wipes away water). An invented creature.
swallers: swallows. Back to Line
46] wite: right. Back to Line
47] Wunks: possibly from `wonky' (? meaning `unstable'), although the term is early 20th-century and British. An invented creature, and a shape-shifter and body-snatcher. Back to Line
55] 'tend: pretend. Back to Line
58] pint: point. Back to Line
67] fer shore: for sure. Back to Line
72] Haymow: "A rick or stack of hay ... [here] applied to the pile of hay stored in a hay-house or barn, or to the compartment of a barn in which hay is stored" (OED). Back to Line
75] bow-'n'-orry: bow-and-arrow. Back to Line
81] 'M go': I'm going. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1890
Publication Notes: 
Century Magazine (Dec. 1890)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Form: