By James Whitcomb Riley – 1849-1916
Let us be thankful—not only because
Since last our universal thanks were told
We have grown greater in the world’s applause,
And fortune’s newer smiles surpass the old—
But thankful for all things that come as alms
From out the open hand of Providence:—
The winter clouds and storms—the summer calms—
The sleepless dread—the drowse of indolence.
Let us be thankful—thankful for the prayers
Whose gracious answers were long, long delayed,
That they might fall upon us unawares,
And bless us, as in greater need we prayed.
Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
That love held out in welcome to our own,
When love and only love could understand
The need of touches we had never known.
Let us be thankful for the longing eyes
That gave their secret to us as they wept,
Yet in return found, with a sweet surprise,
Love’s touch upon their lids, and, smiling, slept.
And let us, too, be thankful that the tears
Of sorrow have not all been drained away,
That through them still, for all the coming years,
We may look on the dead face of To-day.
About the Poet
James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana, on October 7, 1849. He left school at age sixteen and served in a variety of different jobs, including as a sign painter and with a traveling wagon show. He was the author of several books of poetry, including Home-Folks (Bowen-Merrill, 1900), The Flying Islands of the Night (Bowen-Merrill, 1892), and Pipes o’ Pan at Zekesbury (Bobbs-Merrill, 1888). He also served on the staff of two local newspapers, the Anderson Democrat and, later, the Indianapolis Journal. Riley was known as “the poet of the common people” for his frequent use of his local Indiana dialect in his work. He died in Indianapolis, Indiana, on July 22, 1916.