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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.

Poem by James Whitcomb Riley
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