From Delphi to Camden

James Whitcomb Riley

From Delphi to Camden - little Hoosier towns, -
But here were classic meadows, blooming dales and downs;
And here were grassy pastures, dewy as the leas
Trampled over by the trains of royal pagentries!
And here the winding highway loitered through the shade
Of the hazel covert, where, in ambuscade,
Loomed the larch and linden, and the greenwood-tree
Under which bold Robin Hood loud hallooed to me!
Here the stir and riot of the busy day
Dwindled to the quiet of the breath of May;
Gurgling brooks, and ridges lily-marged and spanned
By the rustic bridges found in Wonderland!
From Delphi to Camden, - from Camden back again! -
And now the night was on us, and the lightning and the rain;
And still the way was wondrous with the flash of hill and plain, -
The stars like printed asterisks - the moon a murky stain!
And I thought of tragic idyll, and of light and hot pursuit,
And the jingle of the bridle and cuirass and spur on boot,
As our horses' hooves struck showers from the flinty boulders set
In freshet-ways of writhing reed and drowning violet.
And we passed beleaguered castles, with their battlements a-frown;
Where a tree fell in the forest was a turret toppled down;
While my master and commander -the brave knight I galloped with
On this reckless road to ruin or to fame was - Dr. Smith!


James Whitcomb Riley was the "Hoosier Poet". Hoosier means a person - or this case a town - from Indiana. The origin of the word is uncertain but could be to do with Hussars, a Louisville river businessman called Hoosier or a greeting ("Who's here"?) or something else.