Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Raggedy Man

by James Whitcomb Riley

O The Raggedy Man! He works fer Pa;

An' he's the goodest man ever you saw!
He comes to our house every day,
An' waters the horses, an' feeds 'em hay;
An' he opens the shed - an' we all ist laugh
When he drives out our little old wobble-ly calf;
An' nen - ef our hired girl says he can -
He milks the cow fer 'Lizabuth Ann. -
Ain't he a' awful good Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

W'y, the Raggedy Man -he's ist so good,
He splits the kindlin' an' chops the wood;
An' nen he spades in our garden, too,
An' does most things 'at boys can't do. -
He clumbed clean up in our big tree
An' shooked a' apple down fer me -
An' 'nother 'n' too, fer 'Lizabuth Ann -
An' 'nuther 'n' too, fer The Raggedy Man. -
Ain't he a' awful kind Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

An' The Raggedy Man, he knows most rhymes,
An' tells 'em, ef I be good, sometimes:
Knows 'bout Giunts, an' Griffuns, an' Elves,
An' the Squidgicum-Squees 'at swallers the'rselves:
An', rite by the pump in our pasture-lot,
He showed me the hole 'at the Wunks is got,
'At lives 'way deep in the ground, an' can
Turn into me, er 'Lizabeth Ann!
Er Ma, er Pa, er The Raggedy Man!
Ain't he a funny old Raggedy Man?
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

The Raggedy Man - one time, when he
Wuz makin' a little bow-'n'-orry fer me,
Says "When you're big like your Pa is,
Air you go' to keep a fine store like his -
An' be a rich merchunt - an' wear fine clothes? -
Er what air you go' to be, goodness knows?"
An' nen he laughed at 'Lizabuth Ann,
An' I says "'M go' to be a nice Raggedy Man!"
I'm ist go' to be a nice Raggedy Man!
Raggedy! Raggedy! Raggedy Man!

When I looked up the poem, I found it to be much longer than the version in our children's book of poetry so I only copied the verses I recall Dad reading. I think I know why he liked The Raggedy Man poem; I think it reminded him of his Grampa Shafer. It will forever remind me of sitting next to my own daddy on a cold winter night while he read us poems and stories before putting us to bed at night. "Hey, Rachel! Hold still and get your head out of the way!"


  1. Haha, was I distracting as he was reading?
    I loved it when he read to us. I can still hear him...

  2. Beautiful. I loved to read to the kids when they were young.

  3. Coming from a long line of Hoosiers, I grew up on Riley! Fun, fun...I have quite a few old volumes, too! :)

  4. Yeah, Papa read the Night Before Christmas to the kids this year. Nice.

  5. I love your memories Martha. You make me feel like I was there too.

  6. That is a really nice piece to post. It reminds me of so many people I have known.

  7. It's funny that when I read the poem, I read it with his voice in my mind.