The first poet I ever read extensively
When I was growing up, we lived over 30 miles from town. I didn't go to the library nearly as often as I wished, so I read every book in the house that was interesting at all. I didn't read the entire set of encyclopedias, but I did look at the pictures and read their captions.
Some of the books in our house were odd ones for a child to read. For example, my mother had two volumes of poetry by James Whitcomb Riley: Green Fields and Running Brooks and Afterwhiles. I read some of the poems in those books many times.
James Whitcomb Riley, 1913
One of my favorites was "The Raggedy Man" which reminded me a little of Grandma's cousin, Pete, who came to work for us every summer. Another one I liked was "Farmer Whipple. -- Bachelor," because romances and weddings were some of my favorite things.
"How John Quit the Farm" and "Uncle Jake's Place, St. Jo, Mo., 1874" were prodigal son stories with happy endings. (If you want to read these, you can find them in the full books, linked above.)
Another of my favorites was "Little Orphant Annie." That poem was in one of our reading textbooks at school, with an illustration of children sitting around a fireplace. I remembered the picture everytime I read the poem at home. Also, I thought of Little Orphant Annie having wild red hair and strange eyes, like Little Orphan Annie in the newspaper comics.
I have the copy of Green Fields and Running Brooks that I read as a child. I don't know what ever became of its companion volume, Afterwhiles. However, I can read its poems online whenever I have the urge. The internet, the wonderful internet, makes that possible.
Related post: Life Pictures by William B. Dyer