The Old Swimmin' Hole

Original Text: 
James Whitcomb Riley, Complete Works, Memorial edn. in 10 vols. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916): III, 798-800. PS 2700 F16 Robarts Library.
2Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
4Sounded like the laugh of something we onc't ust to know
5Before we could remember anything but the eyes
6Of the angels lookin' out as we left Paradise;
7But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
8And it's hard to part ferever with the old swimmin'-hole.
9Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the happy days of yore,
10When I ust to lean above it on the old sickamore,
11Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
12That gazed back at me so gay and glorified,
13It made me love myself, as I leaped to caress
16From the old man come back to the old swimmin'-hole.
17Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the long, lazy days
18When the humdrum of school made so many run-a-ways,
19How plesant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
20Whare the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plane
21You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
22They was lots o' fun on hands at the old swimmin'-hole.
23But the lost joys is past! Let your tears in sorrow roll
24Like the rain that ust to dapple up the old swimmin'-hole.
25Thare the bullrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
26And the sunshine and shadder fell over it all;
27And it mottled the worter with amber and gold
28Tel the glad lilies rocked in the ripples that rolled;
30Like the ghost of a daisy dropped out of the sky,
31Or a wownded apple-blossom in the breeze's controle
32As it cut acrost some orchard to'rds the old swimmin'-hole.
33Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! When I last saw the place,
34The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
35The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
36Whare the old divin'-log lays sunk and fergot.
37And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be --
38But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
39And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
40And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin'-hole.


1] crick: creek. Back to Line
3] worter: water. Back to Line
14] shadder: shaddow. Back to Line
15] tuck: took, has taken. Back to Line
29] snake-feeder: dragon-fly (courtesy of Robert Moore, who grew up on the banks of Deer Creek, near Delphi, Indiana). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Indianapolis Journal (June 17, 1882)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.