Illustrated Book Spotlight: Good-Bye, Jim, by James Whitcomb Riley, Illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy

Sometime between the mid-to-late 1900s and the early 1910s, James Whitcomb Riley's poetry was reissued by the Bobbs-Merrill company of Indianapolis as beautifully illustrated "deluxe" editions, at least most of which feature illustrations by Howard Chandler Christy. I've researched these, and while there is next to no information about this series online, the uniformity of the editions themselves suggests to me that they were, in fact, intended as a series. I own three of them: Riley Roses; Good-Bye, Jim; and An Old Sweetheart of Mine. There were a few others, such as A Hoosier Romance (1912), and Out to Old Aunt Mary's (1904).

In this article, I've decided to present the illustrations for Good-Bye, Jim (1913), a civil war poem about a father whose son goes to fight for the Union. The doting father's repeated admonitions to "Take keer of yourse'f" make up a sort of motif throughout the poem, and those words also end the poem when the son dies in the war.

As with most of Riley's poetry, I find this one to be almost irritatingly mawkish, but the artwork in these editions is undeniably exquisite, and if one can look past the saccharine sentimentality of the poetry, the illustrations are worth admiring for their own merits.


1.) Frontispiece: "Guessed he'd tackle her three years more" (Click here to purchase this as a print.)

2.) "When the army broke out"

3.) "And likin' him all to hisse'f"

4.) "Take keer of yourse'f"

5.) "But when Cap. Biggler he writ back"

6.) "The old man wound up a letter to him" (Click here to purchase this as a print.)

7.) "Jim 'lowed 'at he'd had sich luck afore"

8.) "And last he heerd was the old man say"

9.) "Tuk the papers, the old man did"

10.) "Jim, a lieutenant and one arm gone"

11.) "And the old man, bendin' over him"

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