My Dancin’-Days Is Over by James Whitcomb Riley

What is it in old fiddle-chunes ‘at makes me ketch my breath
And ripples up my backbone tel I’m tickled most to death?–
Kindo’ like that sweet-sick feelin’, in the long sweep of a swing,
The first you ever swung in, with yer first sweet-heart, i jing!–
Yer first picnic–yer first ice-cream–yer first o’ ever’thing
‘At happened ‘fore yer dancin’-days wuz over!

I never understood it–and I s’pose I never can,–
But right in town here, yisterd’y, I heerd a pore blindman
A-fiddlin’ old “Gray Eagle”–And-sir! I jes stopped my load
O’ hay and listened at him–yes, and watched the way he “bow’d,”–
And back I went, plum forty year’, with boys and girls I knowed
And loved, long ‘fore my dancin’-days wuz over!–

At high noon in yer city,–with yer blame Magnetic-Cars
A-hummin’ and a-screetchin’ past–and bands and G.A.R.’s
A-marchin’–and fire-ingines.–All the noise, the whole street through,
Wuz lost on me!–I only heerd a whipperwill er two,
It ‘peared-like, kindo’ callin’ ‘crost the darkness and the dew,
Them nights afore my dancin’-days wuz over.

T’uz Chused’y-night at Wetherell’s, er We’nsd’y-night at Strawn’s,
Er Fourth-o’-July-night at uther Tomps’s house er John’s!–
With old Lew Church from Sugar Crick, with that old fiddle he
Had sawed clean through the Army, from Atlanty to the sea–
And yit he’d fetched, her home ag’in, so’s he could play fer me
One’t more afore my dancin’-days wuz over!

The woods ‘at’s all ben cut away wuz growin’ same as then;
The youngsters all wuz boys ag’in ‘at’s now all oldish men;
And all the girls ‘at then wuz girls–I saw ’em, one and all,
As plain as then–the middle-sized, the short-and-fat, and tall–
And, ‘peared-like, I danced “Tucker” fer ’em up and down the wall
Jes like afore my dancin’ days wuz over!

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Yer po-leece they can holler “Say! you, Uncle! drive ahead!–
You can’t use all the right-o’-way!”–fer that wuz what they said!–
But, jes the same,–in spite of all ‘at you call “interprise
And prog-gress of you-folks Today,” we’re all of fambly-ties
We’re all got feelin’s fittin’ fer the tears ‘at’s in our eyes
Er the smiles afore our dancin’-days is over.

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