A Barefoot Boy Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

A Barefoot Boy

Rating: 2.8


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.

COMMENTS OF THE POEM
Deci Hernandez 09 October 2012

To the clasp of an old pocket book. Childhood scars do make the best event recorders. but we cant live like that forever. And how lofty of Riley to remind us of this. And which is better, a pocketboook or pulled back toenails. lol. :)

4 7 Reply
Michael Pruchnicki 09 October 2010

Let me pose this question - When is a metaphor NOT a metaphor? A metaphor is NOT a metaphor when it is in fact a simile! Both 'metaphor' and 'simile' are figures of speech. A metaphor is an implied analogy which imaginatively identifies one object with another. A simile is a fgure of speech in which a similarity between two objects is directly expressed, as in James Whitcomb Riley's '... his big toe-nail knocked back Like unto the clasp of an old pocketbook.' One doesn't read a POCKETBOOK (as Linda Terrell says) , one keeps loose change and stuff in it for safekeeping and convenience! Most similes are introduced by AS or LIKE. Please read lines 13 and 14 closely. Strike me dead if the preposition that introduces the explicit comparison of a CLASP (a brass clip) with the Barefoot Boy's flapping big toe-nail as he ambles along the path is part and parcel of the image that makes up the simile.

4 5 Reply
Abhishek Tiwari 09 October 2011

it just takes, a smile of a child, to shoot all my pain away.. But here Iam not able to understand, Why the Poet is envious?

2 4 Reply
Kevin Straw 09 October 2012

I might have said this before but the old pocket book metaphor seems entirely out of place in a picture of this Huckleberry Finn.

4 2 Reply
Sixtus Unfailingdreams Osim 09 October 2013

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.

3 1 Reply
Me Poet Yeps Poet 10 May 2019

/, /, / Lead kindly into the night with hubby aright be faithful all night and life be a good wife nothing and no one but your husband is right he will take care of you only if you always lead him KINDLY into the night till twilight all your life and I was right me poet yeps poet

0 0 Reply
Me Poet Yeps Poet 10 May 2019

, , , , , , , , , , , , , Lead Kindly Into The Night - Poem by me poet yeps poet I once composed LEAD GENTLY INTO THE NIGHT A poem for a Virgin who was always afraid of a man was married and taken away to a far off land she had none of her trusted ones at hand thus me poet yeps poet

0 0 Reply
Terry Craddock 05 June 2015

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.

6 0 Reply
Terry Craddock 09 October 2014

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.

8 1 Reply
John Richter 09 October 2014

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....

2 0 Reply
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