Here you will find the Long Poem A Ballad of poet James Whitcomb Riley
With A Serious Conclusion Crowd about me, little children-- Come and cluster 'round my knee While I tell a little story That happened once with me. My father he had gone away A-sailing on the foam, Leaving me--the merest infant-- And my mother dear at home; For my father was a sailor, And he sailed the ocean o'er For full five years ere yet again He reached his native shore. And I had grown up rugged And healthy day by day, Though I was but a puny babe When father went away. Poor mother she would kiss me And look at me and sigh So strangely, oft I wondered And would ask the reason why. And she would answer sadly, Between her sobs and tears,-- 'You look so like your father, Far away so many years!' And then she would caress me And brush my hair away, And tell me not to question, But to run about my play. Thus I went playing thoughtfully-- For that my mother said,-- 'YOU LOOK SO LIKE YOUR FATHER!' Kept ringing in my head. So, ranging once the golden sands That looked out on the sea, I called aloud, 'My father dear, Come back to ma and me!' Then I saw a glancing shadow On the sand, and heard the shriek Of a sea-gull flying seaward, And I heard a gruff voice speak:-- 'Ay, ay, my little shipmate, I thought I heard you hail; Were you trumpeting that sea-gull, Or do you see a sail?' And as rough and gruff a sailor As ever sailed the sea Was standing near grotesquely And leering dreadfully. I replied, though I was frightened, 'It was my father dear I was calling for across the sea-- I think he didn't hear.' And then the sailor leered again In such a frightful way, And made so many faces I was little loath to stay: But he started fiercely toward me-- Then made a sudden halt And roared, '_I_ think he heard you!' And turned a somersault. Then a wild fear overcame me, And I flew off like the wind, Shrieking 'MOTHER!'--and the sailor Just a little way behind! And then my mother heard me, And I saw her shade her eyes, Looking toward me from the doorway, Transfixed with pale surprise For a moment--then her features Glowed with all their wonted charms As the sailor overtook me, And I fainted in her arms. When I awoke to reason I shuddered with affright Till I felt my mother's presence With a thrill of wild delight-- Till, amid a shower of kisses Falling glad as summer rain, A muffled thunder rumbled,-- 'Is he coming 'round again?' Then I shrieked and clung unto her, While her features flushed and burned As she told me it was father From a foreign land returned. . . . . . . . I said--when I was calm again, And thoughtfully once more Had dwelt upon my mother's words Of just the day before,-- 'I DON'T look like my father, As you told me yesterday-- I know I don't--or father Would have run the other way.'