Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
A Old Played-Out Song
By James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916)
From “Neighborly Poems”

IT’S the curiousest thing in creation,
  Whenever I hear that old song
“Do They Miss Me at Home,” I’m so bothered,
  My life seems as short as it’s long!—
Fer ev’rything ’pears like adzackly        5
  It ’peared in the years past and gone—
When I started out sparkin’, at twenty,
  And had my first neckercher on!
Though I’m wrinkelder, older, and grayer
  Right now than my parents was then,        10
You strike up that song “Do They Miss Me,”
  And I’m jest a youngster again!—
I’m a-standin’ back thare in the furries
  A-wishin’ fer evening to come,
And a-whisperin’ over and over        15
  Them words “Do They Miss Me at Home?”
You see, Marthy Ellen she sung it
  The first time I heerd it; and so,
As she was my very first sweethart,
  It reminds me of her, don’t you know—        20
How her face ust to look, in the twilight,
  As I tuck her to Spellin’; and she
Kep’ a-hummin’ that song tel I ast her,
  Pine-blank, ef she ever missed me!
I can shet my eyes now, as you sing it,        25
  And hear her low answerin’ words;
And then the glad chirp of the crickets,
  As clear as the twitter of birds;
And the dust in the road is like velvet,
  And the ragweed and fennel and grass        30
Is as sweet as the scent of the lilies
  Of Eden of old, as we pass.
“Do They Miss Me at Home?” Sing it lower—
  And softer—and sweet as the breeze
That powdered our path with the snowy        35
  White bloom of the old locus’ trees!
Let the whipperwills he’p you to sing it,
  And the echoes ’way over the hill,
Tel the moon boolges out, in a chorus
  Of stars, and our voices is still.        40
But oh, “They’s a chord in the music
  That’s missed when her voice is away!”
Though I listen from midnight tell morning,
  And dawn tel the dusk of the day!
And I grope through the dark, lookin’ up’ards        45
  And on through the heavenly dome,
With my longin’ soul singin’ and sobbin’
  The words “Do They Miss Me at Home?”

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