In The Days Gone By

Recently, I was at a primary school’s rummage sale. Besides helping the school, my primary interest in these types of sales is to explore for books, especially old ones.

For a few dollars I bought 17 books. One book was an old, faded blue-cloth volume of 407 pages.

Since being printed in 1934, over its 80-year history it must have passed from person to person. There is a notation on the first page: “Desk #6 Veleg School”.

The book is The Best Loved Poems and Ballads of James Whitcomb Riley with Illustrations by Ethel Franklin Betts—Blue Ribbon Books, Inc. New York City. For its age it is in excellent condition which shows the love and care of someone.

James Whitcomb Riley was a newspaper reporter, writer and poet who was born and lived in Indiana, USA until his death. He was hailed as the Children’s Poet of the 1890s and early 20th Century.

In the references below there is biographical information about this gentleman who wrote about what he knew, especially his beloved state of Indiana. An enduring legacy to this man, Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, Indiana was founded in 1924 by friends and supporters of James Whitcomb Riley.

One of the poems which impressed me in my “new” book was THE DAYS GONE BY. Riley reflects on growing up in the bucolic dales and vales of Indiana.

With descriptive rural imagery Riley tosses in apple orchards, fields of rye, the sounds of birds, honeysuckle vines touching bare feet, water lilies dripping with water, the river mosses, etc. Then he muses on the music of laughter, childish belief in fairies, the magic ring of Aladdin, and the simple belief of child lore.

So, travel back in time as you read the full poem below. Let your mind imagine or remember these simple things of childhood.

For a few moments become lost in the reverie of what was. Childhood is a fading memory as we age on this planet traversing the cosmos.

Taking a break from time to time to reflect on the simple joys and wonders of what was may open new avenues to what can be. “When life was like a story holding neither sob nor sigh, in the golden olden glory of the days gone by.”

G. D. Williams © 2014

POST 571

James Whitcomb Riley’s THE DAYS GONE BY

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The apples in the orchard, and the pathway through the rye;
The chirrup of the robin, and the whistle of the quail
As he piped across the meadows sweet as any nightingale;
When the bloom was on the clover, and the blue was in the sky,
And my happy heart brimmed over in the days gone by.

In the days gone by, when my naked feet were tripped
By the honey-suckle’s tangles where the water-lilies dipped,
And the ripples of the river lipped the moss along the brink
Where the placid-eyed and lazy-footed cattle came to drink,
And the tilting snipe stood fearless of the truant’s wayward cry
And the splashing of the swimmer, in the days gone by.

O the days gone by! O the days gone by!
The music of the laughing lip, the luster of the eye;
The childish faith in fairies, and Aladdin’s magic ring—
The simple, soul-reposing, glad belief in everything,—
When life was like a story, holding neither sob nor sigh,
In the golden olden glory of the days gone by.


James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916)

Ethel Franklin Betts

Riley Hospital for Children