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On Lockerbie Street with James Whitcomb Riley

April 11, 2014 by Reader's Connection

It’s National Poetry Month and, more specifically, it seems to be James Whitcomb Riley Week on our website. A JWR post went up on the Kids’ Blog, this week, and Susanne had sent me this:

Click here to see a YouTube of Riley with the kids on Lockerbie Street.

“Bud” Riley, born in Greenfield, Indiana, wrote poetry in an early Hoosier dialect until he moved to the thriving metropolis of Indianapolis. Taking on his full name, James Whitcomb Riley, he graduated to more literary prose while living within the small Bohemian enclave of Lockerbie Square. Roughly bordered by Michigan Street, College Avenue, New York Street, and East Street, the Square was once, and is now once again, a breath away from busy city life, even though it is just a few blocks east of The Circle.


If you click on the picture, you’ll see an amazing film clip, circa 1909. Riley, who eventually became known as The Children’s Poet, is sitting in front of his home on Lockerbie Street, surrounded by adoring children.

If you go to the Lockerbie Square website, and choose the Walking Tour page, there’s a link for downloading a walking map of present-day Lockerbie Square.

The Best of James Whitcomb Riley
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the poem below was taken from The Best of James Whitcomb Riley.


Lockerbie Street

Such a dear little street it is, nestled away
From the noise of the city and the heat of the day,
In cool shady coverts of whispering trees,
With their leaves lifted up to shake hands with the breeze
Which in all its wide wanderings never may meet
With a resting-place fairer than Lockerbie Street!

There is such a relief from the clangor and din
Of the heart of the town, to go loitering in
Through the dim, narrow walks, with the sheltering shade
Of the trees waving over the long promenade,
And littering lightly the ways of our feet
With the gold of the sunshine down Lockerbie Street.

And the nights that come down the dark pathways of dusk,
With the stars in their tresses, and odors of musk
In their moon-woven raiments, bespangled with dews,
And looped up with the lilies for lovers to use
In the songs that they sing to the tinkle and beat
Of their sweet serenadings through Lockerbie Street.

O my Lockerbie Street! You are fair to be seen –
Be it noon of the day, or the rare and serene
Afternoon of the night – you are one to my heart,
And I love you above all the phrases of art,
For no language could frame and no lips could repeat
My rhyme-haunted raptures of Lockerbie Street.


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