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Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014

Frost on the punkin?

Posted Thursday, October 21, 2010, at 10:12 PM

Fall is the time of year when poems by James Whitcomb Riley pop into my mind and I've got one to put in my column space for this week and next. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Gilbreath, used to read these to her class every year. Riley, by the way, was a Hoosier, and a newspaper man.

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

By James Whitcomb Riley. 1853-1916

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here,
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries--kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below--the clover overhead!--
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps,
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through,
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it--but ef such a thing could be,
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me,
I'd want to 'commodate 'em--all the whole-indurin' flock--
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Anna is a staff writer at the Greene County Daily World and can be reached by calling 847-4487 or by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us


Comments
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I love this poem, but I am sure the English teachers wince when the words are used outside of the poem. Mr. Riley did capture the time and culture though. If you read it and close your eyes you can picture the images in your mind.

-- Posted by bhobbs on Fri, Oct 22, 2010, at 10:46 AM


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Anna Rochelle is editor of the Greene County Daily World and can be reached by sending an email to indianarose@fastmail.us or by calling the office at 812-847-4487.