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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v04n01)
Right in my Own Backyard - Poetic Remembrance of Broad Ripple - by Brandt Carter
posted: Jan. 12, 2007

Right in my Own Backyard header

Poetic Remembrance of Broad Ripple
If you grew up in Indianapolis and went to an Indianapolis Public School, you most likely were introduced to the Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley. "When the Frost Is on the Punkin'" and "Little Orphan Annie" are two favorites. I would like to share a lesser known poem that Riley wrote about Broad Ripple:

Right in my Own Backyard - Poetic Remembrance of Broad Ripple - by Brandt Carter

At Broad Ripple
James Whitcomb Riley

Oh luxury! Beyond the heat
And dust of town, with dangling feet
Astride the rock below the dam,
In the cool shadows where the calm
Rests on the stream again, and all
Is silent save the waterfall, --
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.
No high ambition can I claim --
I angle not for lordly game
Of trout, or bass, or wary bream --
A black perch reaches the extreme
Of my desires; and "goggle-eyes"
Are not a thing that I despise;
A sunfish, or a "chub," or a "cat" --
A "silver-side" -- yea, even that!
In eloquent tranquility
The waters lisp and talk to me.
Sometimes, far out, the surface breaks,
As some proud bass an instant shakes
His glittering armor in the sun,
And romping ripples, one by one,
Come dallying across the space
Where undulates my smiling face.
The river's story flowing by,
Forever sweet to ear and eye,
Forever tenderly begun --
Forever new and never done.
Thus lulled and sheltered in a shade
Where never feverish cares invade,
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

This poem first appeared in the Indianapolis Journal on July 20, 1882. Isn't it interesting to imagine Broad Ripple in Riley's day and then leap to all that it has embraced in the years since? Reading it today comes as an invitation to visit the Riley home in Lockerbie or access www.jameswhitcombriley.com. While in Broad Ripple on a warmer day, take time to walk along the canal, the park, or the streets and find a spot to sit by the White River or Williams Creek (possibly where the spot Riley wrote the poem) to "feel the best of life is mine."


Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site www.feedbackyardbirds.com. Email your bird questions to Brandt@BroadRippleGazette.com




brandt@broadripplegazette.com
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