“What Delightful Hosts are They-Life and Love!”-James Whitcomb Riley
“He(James Whitcomb Riley) taught us once again the fundamental truth which we were long in learning here in America, that there is a poetry of common things as well as of epic deeds.”–Hamlin Garland On James Whitcomb Riley
American poet, James Whitcomb Riley was born today in 1849. I never knew that it was his poem, Little Orphant Annie, published in 1885, that started all things “Little Orphan Annie:” the comic strip, books, plays, movies…I have a personal connection to the musical; when my daughter was young, she played one of the orphans in our small town’s community theater production, which was excellent. Since that time, I fell in love with the music. It’s a great play for the whole family. Riley is known as “The Hoosier Poet” and “America’s Children’s Poet.” His lawyer-father wanted him to become something; surely not a poet. “Riley’s parents feared he was not going to amount to anything. He simply could not learn history or mathematics. Once when a childhood teacher asked him where Christopher Columbus sailed on his second voyage, Riley answered he didn’t know where he went on the first one. A teacher once moaned, “He doesn’t know which is more -twice ten or twice eternity.”–Thomas E.Q. Williams
Riley was quite famous in his own time and enjoyed many accolades.