A Barefoot Boy

A barefoot boy! I mark him at his play --
For May is here once more, and so is he, --
His dusty trousers, rolled half to the knee,
And his bare ankles grimy, too, as they:
Cross-hatchings of the nettle, in array
Of feverish stripes, hint vividly to me
Of woody pathways winding endlessly
Along the creek, where even yesterday
He plunged his shrinking body -- gasped and shook --
Yet called the water 'warm,' with never lack
Of joy. And so, half enviously I look
Upon this graceless barefoot and his track, --
His toe stubbed -- ay, his big toe-nail knocked back
Like unto the clasp of an old pocketbook.

by James Whitcomb Riley

Comments (25)

Yesterday Years: Eternal Childhood Fleeting this is the dream childhood to play endlessly during eternal summer days to barefoot explore get indifferent dirty delight in adventures imagination interacting with internalized nature swimming carefree days like an otter orbits waters leaping from bank to streams surface to depth wonders before adulthood responsibilities cage close opportunity windows Copyright © Terence George Craddock Inspired by the poem 'A Barefoot Boy' by James Whitcomb Riley. Dedicated to the poet James Whitcomb Riley.
This is the dream childhood, to play endlessly during summer days, to barefoot explore, get dirty, delight in adventures of imagination interacting with nature, swimming carefree days before responsibilities of adulthood, beautifully written.
The Great Child's Poet! I lived in his home town for years as a younger man. I've always pictured him sitting upon his porch on a warming summer day, as I suppose was most customary in his day, as perchance neighbor children out to play, might slovenly come round his way. And he with great authority might say, the things that make them boys at play....
The poet has poured all his soul.
The poet is drawing mere comparisons between the sound produced by the barefoot boy's toe-nails and that produced when those who have pocketbook clasp on it; the poet isn't saying this has one. The poet closed his with a simile, not a metaphor. This poem is the epitome of an imagery - the poet creates in the reader's mind the scenes surrounding this boy at moments, from the start of the poem to the endings.
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