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Writer's Recollections, A. Parts I, II,

III, IV.... Mrs. Humphry Ward

161, 542, 680, 877

Illustrated with Photographs.
Young America and Old France

Dorothy Canfield 491
Illustrated with Photographs.

Y. M. C. A. at the Front, The

Francis B. Sayre 358
Illustrated with Photographs.

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A POET AND His CHILD FRIENDS

James Whitcomb Riley's Letters To Children Arranged with Comment by Edmund H.Eitel

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ute.

AMES WHITCOMB RILEY al- Man,” and has watched it tingle with ways greeted the applause which glee through every line, comprehends

came to him with something of the how amazingly Riley understood the surprise and wonder of a child. When child. It was natural that the children he was praised as the man who had should applaud and ask for more, at introduced the real child into American school and at home. In Riley the teachliterature, he said, “I have only been ers found "a key to child-nature.” And trying to do the little fellow simplest, in Riley the children instinctively knew purest justice.” But he was genuinely they had a friend who understood. And pleased, and was not too grown-up so they wrote to him, and made his to acknowledge his gratification. “The growing years beautiful with their tribletters received from delighted fathers and mothers,” he wrote to an old friend, On Easter and New Year's they show"and even the pencil-printed ones from ered letters, drawings, rhymes, and the lovely little chaps themselves, all- Aowers upon him. At Christmas-time all go to make me one of the happiest, Riley's correspondence rivaled that of gratefulest of men—with never a child St. Nicholas. On his birthdays the postof my own, and yet with a world of man on Lockerbie Street had to throw them-thank the Father of us all.”

up his hands, and Uncle Sam's automoIt was the children themselves who

bile brought around in mail-bags the helped him most to his success. Who letters from boys and girls. On his ever has seen a child listening to "Little last birthday, October 7, 1915, ten thouOrphant Annie” or “The Raggedy sand messages came, many representing

Copyright, 1917, by Harper & Brothers. All Rights Reserved.

wrote a

a

entire classes or whole buildings of usually liked "The Old Swimmin’-Hole" school-children, and many written out of best, but often mentioned "Out to school in a burst of confidence.

Old Aunt Mary's,” which perhaps has “I think Indiana should be proud of reached their hearts through its desuch a child as you," a little girl wrote. scription of good things to eat. Almost "Not only Indiana, but the United all of the verses mentioned by his little States should be proud of you. I am correspondents are in child dialect. proud of you myself.”

The children favored Riley with their Riley's appeal to the child was uni own poetic efforts. On one birthday versal, for the people who liked him they gave him a poetry shower, and lived in all parts of the world. Some marched past his gate on Lockerbie times immigrant children, Italians, Ar Street with their contributions. This menians, Slavs, remembered him with came from a little girl in Portland, letters. "I am a little Hungarian boy Oregon: “When I was nine years old I just one year in this country,

wrote a poem. I will send it to you. I child, “but that one year was enough was sitting on the porch one night and to learn to love your lovely poems. I composed it in a few minutes. I started like the Old Swimmin'-Hole best.” An another but did not finish it.” One little Indian boy wrote, “I think the Raggedy boy inclosed pome,

which was Man is nice, but I can't go back on the everything that a poem should not be: Bear Story.

“I am twelve years old, live in the counSo the letters came, some in big, wab try, and am not fit for hard work. If bly handwriting, some in faultless verti you think it is all right I will try and be cal, and once a letter in Braille from a a poet.' school for blind children. It seemed the Again and again the children in their writers had not the slightest doubt that letters told of their desire to meet Riley. the poet would gladly hear anything and “You naughty little poet!” one letter everything that they were interested in. from Indianapolis read. “To think It would be impossible to quote many

of both of us living in the same city of the amusing things children wrote to and never meeting as I would like to Riley. Some of them ought not to be do very much, but deep in my heart forgotten. One little boy wrote, “I tell there is forgiveness for you. I realize you what, Mr. Riley, I was surprised to that you are no longer young and canlearn that you was living because I not get around to visit and meet all of thought all poets was dead.” A very your unknown friends." little girl sent this birthday message in One enthusiastic boy wrote: "Can't an immense and wabbly hand, “I hope you come down to California and visit you have had a happy day. I think it us? We have never had any important will pay both you and both me to keep people to come to visit us, only relations up your writting of good poetry.” A and they are not important. boy wrote, “I have read so many of Some of the most charming of the your poems that I have a strong taste of letters were those which tell of meeting poetry myself.” Another boy asked, “Did you ever stop to think where that boy went in ‘Little Orphant Annie'?"

DEAR MR. RILEY,—We little girls who Another said: “I past your home about

came to your home today are so ashamed of a month ago on Lockerbie street. It ourselves for staring at you so, but we had looks like it is filled with poetry from not expected to see you our great Hoosier foundashun to roof.” “I have never

poet in his living room, when just this aftersaw you, and you have never saw me,

noon I had read that you detested being wrote a very ungrammatical little girl,

as if you

a pinkeyed “but I do wish I will see you some time.'

mouse." Frequently the children told Riley

I do not know whether you will ever have which poem was “loved best.” “The

time to glance at this note but we wanted

to apologize to you for being so very comRaggedy Man” and “The Bear Story” were the favorites. "Little Orphant From a little girl who loves you, Annie” was a close third. The boys

MARY M. Coates.

the poet:

stared at,

were

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mon.

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