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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

No Boy Knows

By James Whitcomb Riley (1849–1916)

THERE are many things that boys may know—

Why this and that are thus and so,—

Who made the world in the dark and lit

The great sun up to lighten it:

Boys know new things every day—

When they study, or when they play,—

When they idle, or sow and reap—

But no boy knows when he goes to sleep.

Boys who listen—or should, at least,—

May know that the round old earth rolls East;—

And know that the ice and the snow and the rain—

Ever repeating their parts again—

Are all just water the sunbeams first

Sip from the earth in their endless thirst,

And pour again till the low streams leap.—

But no boy knows when he goes to sleep.

A boy may know what a long, glad while

It has been to him since the dawn’s first smile,

When forth he fared in the realm divine

Of brook-laced woodland and spun-sunshine;—

He may know each call of his truant mates,

And the paths they went,—and the pasture-gates

Of the ’cross-lots home through the dusk so deep.—

But no boy knows when he goes to sleep.

O I have followed me, o’er and o’er,

From the flagrant drowse on the parlor-floor,

To the pleading voice of the mother when

I even doubted I heard it then—

To the sense of a kiss, and a moonlit room,

And dewy odors of locust-bloom—

A sweet white cot—and a cricket’s cheep.—

But no boy knows when he goes to sleep.