OLD JOHN CLEVENGER ON BUCKEYES
BY JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
Old John Clevenger lets on,
Allus, like he's purty rough
Timber.--He's a grate old John!--
"Rough?"--don't swaller no sich stuff!
Moved here, sence the war was through,
From Ohio--somers near
Old Bucyrus,--loyal, too,
As us "Hoosiers" is to here!
Git old John stirred up a bit
On his old home stompin'-ground--
Talks same as he lived thare yit,
When some subject brings it round--
Like, fer instunce, Sund'y last,
Fetched his wife, and et and stayed
All night with us.--Set and gassed
Tel plum midnight--'cause I made
Some remark 'bout "buckeyes" and
"What was buckeyes good fer?"--So,
Like I 'lowed, he waved his hand
And lit in and let me know:--
"'What is Buckeyes good fer?'--What's
Pineys and fergitmenots?--
Honeysuckles, and sweet-peas,
And sweet-williamsuz, and these
Growin' round the roots o' trees
In Spring-weather?--what air they
Good fer?--kin you tell me--Hey?
'Good to look at?' Well they air!
'Specially when Winter's gone,
Clean dead-certin! and the wood's
Green again, and sun feels good's
June!--and shed your blame boots on
The back porch, and lit out to
Roam round like you ust to do,
Bare-foot, up and down the crick,
Whare the buckeyes growed so thick,
And witch-hazel and pop-paws,
And hackberries and black-haws--
With wild pizen-vines jis knit
Over and en-nunder it,
And wove round it all, I jing!
Tel you couldn't hardly stick
A durn caseknife through the thing!
Wriggle round through that; and then--
All het-up, and scratched and tanned,
And muskeeter-bit and mean-
Feelin'--all at onc't again,
Come out suddent on a clean
Slopin' little hump o' green
Dry soft grass, as fine and grand
As a pollor-sofy!--And
Jis pile down thare!--and tell me
Anywhares you'd ruther be--
'Ceptin' right thare, with the wild-
Flowrs all round ye, and your eyes
Smilin' with 'em at the skies,
Happy as a little child!
Well!--right here, I want to say,
Poets kin talk all they please
'Bout 'wild-flowrs, in colors gay,'
And 'sweet blossoms flauntin' theyr
Beauteous fragrunce on the breeze'--
But the sight o' buckeyes jis
Sweet to me as blossoms is!
"I'm Ohio-born--right whare
People's all called 'Buckeyes' thare--
'Cause, I s'pose, our buckeye crap's
Biggest in the world, perhaps!--
Ner my head don't stretch my hat
Too much on account o' that!--
'Cause it's Natchur's ginerus hand
Sows 'em broadcast ore the land,
With eye-single fer man's good
And the gineral neghborhood!
So buckeyes jis natchurly
'Pears like kith-and-kin to me!
'Slike the good old sayin' wuz,
'Purty is as purty does!'--
We can't eat 'em, cookd er raw--
Yit, I mind, tomattusuz
Wuz considerd pizenus
Onc't--and dasent eat 'em!--Pshaw--
'Twouldn't take me by supprise,
Someday, ef we et buckeyes!
That, though, 's nuther here ner thare!--
Jis the Buckeye, whare we air,
In the present times, is what
Ockuppies my lovin' care
And my most perfoundest thought!
. . . Guess, this minute, what I got
In my pocket, 'at I've packed
Purt'-nigh forty year.--A dry,
Slick and shiny, warped and cracked,
Wilted, weazened old buckeye!
What's it thare fer? What's my hart
In my brest fer?--'Cause it's part
Of my life--and 'tends to biz--
Like this buckeye's bound to act--
'Cause it 'tends to Rhumatiz!
". . . Ketched more rhumatiz than fish,
Seinen', onc't--and pants froze on
My blame legs!--And ust to wish
I wuz well er dead and gone!
Doc give up the case, and shod
His old hoss again and stayed
On good roads!--And thare I laid!
Pap he tuck some bluegrass sod
Steeped in whisky, bilin'-hot,
And socked that on! Then I got
Sorto' holt o' him, somehow--
Kindo' crazy-like, they say--
And I'd killed him, like as not,
Ef I hadn't swooned away!
Smell my scortcht pelt purt' nigh now!
Well--to make a long tale short--
I hung on the blame disease
Like a shavin'-hoss! and sort
O' wore it out by slow degrees--
Tel my legs wuz straight enugh
To poke through my pants again
And kick all the doctor-stuff
In the fi-er-place! Then turned in
And tuck Daddy Craig's old cuore--
Jis a buckeye--and that's shore.--
Hain't no case o' rhumatiz
Kin subsist whare buckeyes is!"