In the past two years I have heard three world reference one of Indiana poet James Whitcomb Riley’s most renowned poems—“When The Frost Is top top the Punkin.” 2 were world I recognize who discussed the poem—by express its title–in casual conversation about fall weather; the various other was a television weatherman who pointed out it when discussing the figure of morning frost. The a rare point for any kind of poet to lodge simply one line, let alone an entire poem, in the minds of human being a century after his death: it was one hundred years ago, in June of 1916, that the lovely Riley died at the period of sixty-six. It’s likewise noteworthy since Riley was a well-known homespun American poet whose best fame was in the 1890s and also early twentieth century. Nevertheless, just saying “frost on the punkin” have the right to strike a familiar note.

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The James Whitcomb Riley home in Indianapolis.

There are memorials to him and places named for him around the country. A rapid look at Amazon and also Goodreads demonstrates the Riley still has actually readers. Other well-known versifiers that his time have fallen totally by the wayside, yet there room still pan of homespun verse who reap Riley’s work, consisting of me. American who prospered up in the forties, fifties and also sixties making use of the literary works anthologies of the time have the right to likely recall Riley. Top top the various other hand, it seems safe to say the while Riley is not in complete obscurity, that is a faded figure. His surname would have been an ext easily recognized among the analysis public in the mid twentieth century.


Sign developed by Riley in 1871 proclaiming his services.

Rather 보다 being banished from newspaper job-related altogether, Riley eventually discovered a task on the much larger Indianapolis Journal. here he worked as a reporter and also began composing the language poems that aided make his reputation. These poems were published under the surname “Benjamin F. Johnson (of Boone).” Riley created a rustic change ego in the type of Benjamin F. Johnson—a guy who composed in a sentimental and nostalgic style about the joys of nation life and the an excellent times of lengthy ago. Riley’s an initial poems were accumulated in a volume dubbed “The Old Swimmin’ Hole, and also ‘Leven much more Poems, by Benj. F. Johnson that Boone.” Riley and also the Journal’s business manager financed the publishing of the book, which came to be a success, and others followed. Riley to be prolific, and also the audience to be there for his work.


Advertisement for invoice Nye and also James Whitcomb Riley on tour.

Riley’s success together a famous poet is unequal anything us would view in today’s world. As Arthur W. Shumaker note in A background of Indiana Literature, Riley to be “first a curiosity and celebrity, climate an accepted, loved, and also famous writer and entertainer, and also finally an institution, a tradition, and nearly a myth.” Riley was a guest in ~ the White House throughout the managements of one assortment the Presidents, and also when he passed away his human body lay in state in the capitol structure in Indianapolis. An estimated thirty-five thousand people filed past his coffin to honor the lover poet.

For me this poem does summon storage of fall in the Midwest—long fields full of dried corn stalks; the sharp air the October and also November; frost-glint top top pumpkins in the morning; dry leaves rustling and crunching underfoot; the deep quiet of autumn in fields and forests; the emotion that the year is ending and also that winter will quickly arrive. But I also find the it evokes the vigor that the season—the cool, clean waiting after the long warmth of the summer; the crispness that an fall evening; the urge to rake and also clean; come stow far the points of summer for another day.


Patrick Kerin


James Whitcomb Riley: A Life by Elizabeth J. Valve Allen, Indiana university Press, Bloomington and also Indianapolis, 1999–an excellent biography the Riley.

A background of Indiana Literature through Arthur W. Shumaker, Indiana historical Society, 1962. (Subtitled “With emphasis on the authors of Imaginative Works who Commenced writing Prior to civilization War II”).

Dictionary that Midwestern Literature: Volume One–The Authors. Philip A. Greasley, basic Editor. Entry on Riley through Arthur W. Shumaker. Indiana college Press, Bloomington and Indianapolis, 2001.

Wikipedia write-up on James Whitcomb Riley.

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Posted in Uncategorized and also tagged "No display Jones", "When The Frost Is top top The Punkin", Benjamin F. Johnson the Boone, invoice Nye, Edgar Allan Poe, George Jones, greenfield (Indiana), Indiana, Indianapolis, James Whitcomb Riley, James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum, James Whitcomb Riley Festival, James Whitcomb Riley Museum Home
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Thank girlfriend for all of this an useful information. I belong come writers group (Central Indiana authors Association) that has actually been meeting for 40 year in Indianapolis. At our November conference at Barnes and also Nobles in Greenwood, Indiana, anyone was questioning to carry their work and share in ~ the meeting. I perform not compose poetry and I did not have actually anything else written. However a few days prior to my sister had actually sent me an e-mail sharing James Whitcomb Riley’s poem,, once the Frost is top top the punkin. She stays on a farm close to Crawfordsville, Indiana. In the email she composed some lines telling about the farmers the end gathering corn in the cornfields the morning. I shared with the members the this day farming and the farming of James Whitcomb Riley’s day. Several people took turns analysis a city of his famous poem. That was delighted in by everyone. There was so much beauty in his created words.

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