Out to Old Aunt Mary's

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Out to Old Aunt Mary's  (1904) 
by James Whitcomb Riley

Wasn't it pleasant, O brother mine,
In those old days of the lost sunshine
     Of youth—when the Saturday's chores were through,
     And the "Sunday's wood" in the kitchen, too,
     And we went visiting, "me and you,"
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's?—

"Me and you"—and the morning fair,
With the dewdrops twinkling everywhere;
     The scent of the cherry-blossoms blown
     After us, in the roadway lone,
     Our capering shadows onward thrown—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

It all comes back so clear to-day!
     Though I am as bald as you are gray,—
     Out by the barn-lot and down the lane,
     We patter along in the dust again,
     As light as the tips of the drops of rain,
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's

The last few houses of the town;
Then on, up the high creek bluffs and down;
     Past the squat toll-gate with its well-sweep poll;
     The bridge, "the old 'baptizin'-hole',"
     Loitering, awed, o'er pool and shoal,
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

We cross the pasture, and through the wood,
Where the old gray snag of the poplar stood,
     Where the hammering "red-heads" hopped awry,
     And the buzzard "raised" in the "clearing"-sky
     And lolled and circled as we went by
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

Or, stayed by the glint of the redbird's wings,
Or the glitter of the song that the bluebird sings,
     All hushed we feign to strike strange trails,
     As the "big braves" do in the Indian tales,
     Till again our real quest lags and fails—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And the woodland echoes with yells of mirth
That make old war-whoops of minor worth!...
     Where such heroes of war as we?—
     With bows and arrows of fantasy,
     Chasing each other from tree to tree
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

And then in the dust of the road again;
And the teams we met, and the countrymen;
     And the long highway, with sunshine spread
     As thick as butter on country bread,
     Our cares behind, our hearts ahead
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.—

For only, now, at the road's next bend
To the right we could make out the gable-end
     Of the fine old Huston homestead—not
     Not half a mile from the sacred spot
     Where dwelt our Saint in her simple cot—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

Why, I see her now in the open door
Where the little gourds grew up the sides and o'er
     The clapboard roof!—And her face—ah, me!
     Wasn't it good for a boy to see—
     And wasn't it good for a boy to be
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's?—

The jelly, the jam, and the marmalade,
And the cherry and quince "preserves" she made!
     And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,
     With cinnamon in 'em and all things rare!—
     And the more we ate was the more to spare
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

Ah, was there, ever, so kind a face
And gentle as hers, and such a grace
     Of welcoming, as she cut the cake
     Or the juicy pies she joyed to make
     Just for the visiting children's sake—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's!

The honey, too, in its amber comb
One only finds in an old farm-home;
     And the coffee, fragrant and sweet, and ho!
     So hot that we gloried to drink it so,
     With spangles of tears in our eyes, you know—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And the romps we took, in our glad unrest!—
Was it the lawn that we loved the best,
     With its swooping swing in the locust trees,
     Or was it the grove, with its leafy breeze,
     Or the dim haymow,with its fragrancies—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

Far fields, bottom-lands, creek-banks— all
We ranged at will.— Where the waterfall
     Laughed all day as it slowly poured
     Over the dam by the old mill-ford,
     While the tail-race writhed, and the mill-wheel roared—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

But home, with Aunty in nearer call,
That was the best place, after all!—
     The talks on the back porch, in the low
     Slanting sun and the evening glow,
     With the voice of counsel that touched us so,
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And then, in the garden—near the side
Where the beehives were and the path was wide,—
     The apple-house—like a fairy cell—
     With the little square door we knew so well,
     And the wealth inside but our tongues could tell—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And the old spring-house, the cool green gloom
Of the willow trees,—and the cooler room
     Where the swinging shelves and the crocks were kept,
     Where the cream in a golden languor slept,
     While the waters gurgled and laughed and wept—
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.

And as many a time as you and I—
Barefoot boys in the days gone by—
     Knelt in the tremulous ecstasies
     Dipped our lips into sweets like these,—
     Memory now is on her knees
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.—

For,O my brother so far away,
This is to tell you—she waits to-day
     To welcome us:—Aunt Mary fell
     Asleep this morning, whispering, "Tell
     The boys to come."...And all is well
          Out to Old Aunt Mary's.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.

The author died in 1916, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.