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Wortermelon Time
James Whitcomb Riley


Old wortermelon time is a-comin’ round again,
And they ain’t no man a-livin’ any tickleder’n me,
Fer the way I hanker after wortermelons is a sin

Which is the why and wharefore, as you can plainly see.

Oh! it’s in the sandy soil wortermelons does the best,
And it’s thare they’ll lay and waller in the sunshine and the dew
Tel they wear all the green streaks clean off of theyr breast;
And you bet I ain’t a-findin’ any fault with them; ain’t you?

They ain’t no better thing in the vegetable line;
And they don’t need much 'tendin’, as ev’ry farmer knows;
And when theyr ripe and ready fer to pluck from the vine,
I want to say to you theyr the best fruit that grows.

It’s some likes the yeller-core, and some likes the red.
And it’s some says “The Little Californy” is the best;
But the sweetest slice of all I ever wedged in my head,
Is the old “Edingburg Mounting-sprout,” of the west.

You don’t want no punkins nigh your wortermelon vines

'Cause, some-way-another, they’ll spile your melons, shore;
I’ve seed 'em taste like punkins, from the core to the rines,
Which may be a fact you have heerd of before

But your melons that’s raised right and 'tended to with care,
You can walk around amongst 'em with a parent’s pride and joy,
And thump 'em on the heads with as fatherly a air
As ef each one of them was your little girl er boy.

I joy in my hart jest to hear that rippin’ sound
When you split one down the back and jolt the halves in two,
And the friends you love the best is gethered all around

And you says unto your sweethart, “Oh, here’s the core fer you!”

And I like to slice 'em up in big pieces fer 'em all,
Espeshally the childern, and watch theyr high delight
As one by one the rines with theyr pink notches falls,
And they holler fer some more, with unquenched appetite.

Boys takes to it natchurl, and I like to see 'em eat 

A slice of wortermelon’s like a frenchharp in theyr hands,
And when they “saw” it through theyr mouth sich music can’t be beat

'Cause it’s music both the sperit and the stummick understands.

Oh, they’s more in wortermelons than the purty-colored meat,
And the overflowin’ sweetness of the worter squshed betwixt
The up’ard and the down’ard motions of a feller’s teeth,
And it’s the taste of ripe old age and juicy childhood mixed.

Fer I never taste a melon but my thoughts flies away
To the summertime of youth; and again I see the dawn,
And the fadin’ afternoon of the long summer day,
And the dusk and dew a-fallin’, and the night a-comin’ on.

And thare’s the corn around us, and the lispin’ leaves and trees,
And the stars a-peekin’ down on us as still as silver mice,
And us boys in the wortermelons on our hands and knees,
And the new-moon hangin’ ore us like a yeller-cored slice.

Oh! it’s wortermelon time is a-comin’ round again,
And they ain’t no man a-livin’ any tickleder’n me,
Fer the way I hanker after wortermelons is a sin

Which is the why and wharefore, as you can plainly see.

This poem is in the public domain.

James Whitcomb Riley (1849 - 1916) was an American poet best known for his children's poems and dialect-based verses. James was born in Greenfield, Indiana, and later moved to Indianapolis; homes in both cities are preserved and open to the public today. James was hugely popular during his lifetime. A bestselling author who traveled the country speaking to sell-out crowds, he never married or had children of his own, but he loved children and they loved him back. When he died, more than 35,000 people came to pay their respects as James lay in state under the Indiana capitol dome.  



Post New Comment:
He was a master of a certain kind of dialect.
Posted 08/10/2016 09:22 PM
Wonderful post, Jayne. Riley does a great job showcasing his native Indiana dialect. This is a treasure. Thank you.
Posted 08/04/2016 01:31 PM
Larry Schug:
I've been an absolute watermelon pig for the last three weeks-a craving fulfilled! Riley's line "It's the taste of ripe old age and juicy childhood mixed." is just perfect. Great timing on this poem, Jayne.
Posted 08/04/2016 08:00 AM

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