The Hoosier Poet

October 7, 1849, Greenfield, Indiana.

July 22, 1916, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.

James was the son of Reuben Alexander Riley and Elizabeth M. Marine.

In the secular world, he is remembered as author of the 1885 poem, Little Orphant Annie, which inspired the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, by Harold Gray (1894–1968).


On His “Book of Joyous Children”

Yours is a garden of old-fashioned flowers;
Joyous children delight to play here;
Weary men find rest in its bowers,
Watching the lingering light of day there.

Old-time tunes and young love-laughter
Ripple and run among the roses;
Memory’s echoes, murmuring after,
Fill the dusk when the long day closes.

Simple songs with a cadence olden—
These you learned in he Forest of Arden:
Friendly flowers with hearts all golden—
These you borrowed from Eden’s garden.

This is the reason why all men love you;
Truth to life is the finest art:
Other poets may soar above you—
You keep close to the human heart.

Henry Jackson Van Dyke
December 1903

  1. Let Something Good Be Said