THE POETRY ARCHIVES @ eMule.com PRINT CLOSE

A Barefoot Boy
by James Whitcomb Riley

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