Knee-Deep in June


Knee-Deep in June was published in the anthology, The Humour of America, edited by Jim Barr in 1908. Riley invites us to: “LAY OUT THERE AND TRY TO SEE JES’ HOW LAZY YOU KIN BE!”
June Bracken And Heather
Illustration for "Knee-Deep in June" by James Whitcomb Riley

TELL you what I like the best—
’Long about knee-deep in June,
’Bout the time strawberries melts
On the vines—some afternoon
Like to jes’ git out and rest,
And not work at nothin’ else!


Orchard’s where I’d ruther be—
Needn’t fence it in fer me!
Jes’ the whole sky overhead,
And the whole airth underneath—
Sorto’ so’s a man kin breathe
Like he ort, and kindo’ has
Elbow-room to keerlessly
Sprawl out len’thways on the grass,
Where the shadders thick and soft
As the kivvers on the bed
Mother fixes in the loft
Allus, when they’s company!


Jes’ a sorto’ lazein’ there—
S’ lazy, ’at you peek and peer
Through the wavin’ leaves above,
Like a feller ’ats in love
And don’t know it, ner don’t keer.
Ever’thing you hear and see
Got some sort o’ interest—
Maybe find a bluebird’s nest
Tucked up there conveenently
Fer the boys ’ats apt to be
Up some other apple tree!
Watch the swallers skootin’ past
’bout as peert as you could ast;
Er the Bobwhite raise and whiz
Where some other’s whistle is.


Ketch a shadder down below,
And look up to find the crow;
Er a hawk away up there,
’Pearantly froze in the air!—
Hear the old hen squawk, and squat
Over every chick she’s got,
Suddent-like!—And she knows where
That air hawk is, well as you!—
You jes’ bet yer life she do!—
Eyes a-glittering like glass
Waitin’ till he makes a pass!


Pee-wees’ singin’, to express
My opinion, ’s second class,
Yit you’ll hear ’em more er less;
Sapsucks gettin’ down to biz,
Weedin’ out the lonesomeness;
Mr. Bluejay, full o’ sass,
In those base-ball clothes o’ his,
Sportin’ ’round the orchard jes’
Like he owned the premises!
Sun out in the field kin sizz,
But flat on yer back, I guess,
In the shade’s where glory is!
That’s jes’ what I’d like to do
Stiddy fer a year er two!


Plague! ef they aint sompin’ in
Work ’at kindo’ goes agin
My convictions!—’long about
Here in June especially!—
Under some old apple tree
Jes’ a-restin’ through and through,
I could git along without
Nothin’ else at all to do
Only jes’ a-wishin’ you
Was a-gettin’ there like me,
And June was eternity!


Lay out there and try to see
Jes’ how lazy you kin be!—
Tumble round and souse yer head
In the clover-bloom, er pull
Yer straw hat acrost yer eyes,
And peek through it at the skies,
Thinkin’ of old chums ’ats dead,
Maybe, smilin’ back at you
In betwixt the beautiful
Clouds o’ gold and white and blue!—
Month a man kin railly love—
June, you know, I’m talkin’ of!


March ain’t never nothin’ new!—
Aprile’s altogether too
Brash fer me! and May—I jes’
’Bominate its promises,—
Little hints o’ sunshine and
Green around the timber-land—
A few blossoms, and a few
Chip-birds, and a sprout er two—
Drap asleep, and it turns in
’Fore daylight and snows agin!—
But when June comes—Clear my throat
With wild honey! Rench my hair
In the dew! and hold my coat!
Whoop out loud! and throw my hat!—
June wants me and I’m to spare!
Spread them shadders anywhere,
I’ll git down and waller there,
And obleeged to you at that!

Knee-Deep in June was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Wed, Jun 07, 2023

If you like this poem, you might also enjoy June Bracken and Heather. For younger audiences, visit our collection of Children's Poems.


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