Oh luxury! Beyond the heat
And dust of town, with dangling feet
Astride the rock below the dam,
In the cool shadows where the calm
Rests on the stream again, and all
Is silent save the waterfall,–
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

No high ambition can I claim —
I angle not for lordly game
Of trout, or bass, or wary bream —
A black perch reaches the extreme
Of my desires; and “goggle-eyes”
Are not a thing that I despise;
A sunfish, or a “chub,” or a “cat”–
A “silver-side”– yea, even that!

In eloquent tranquility
The waters lisp and talk to me.
Sometimes, far out, the surface breaks,
As some proud bass an instant shakes
His glittering armor in the sun,
And romping ripples, one by one,
Come dallyiong across the space
Where undulates my smiling face.

The river’s story flowing by,
Forever sweet to ear and eye,
Forever tenderly begun —
Forever new and never done.
Thus lulled and sheltered in a shade
Where never feverish cares invade,
I bait my hook and cast my line,
And feel the best of life is mine.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Whitcomb Riley's poem At Broad Ripple


  1. Jim Doyle says:

    I too am a resident of Indianapolis and have been a long-time fan of James Whitcomb Riley. This poem was in my book, “The Complete Poetical Works of James Whitcomb Riley.” But the first two words in the book are, “Ah, luxury!,” instead of “Oh, luxury,” which gives a slightly different feel to the poem. “Ah” is more reflective and relaxed. Ah, luxury! is later defined by the phrase,”And feel the best of life is mine.” To him, true luxury is a quiet fishing hole in Broadripple, whether he catches a fish or not. As with all his poetry, you can almost feel the water on your feet and the sun on your back.

  2. Lee Ellis says:

    Riley wonderfully describes one of life’s simple pleasures; one that is much harder to come by today, for most of us.

  3. Steve Smolsky says:

    this poem told me about a dusty town and what he likes.

  4. Melissa Moore says:

    As a native of Indianapolis, In. I have spent many hours on the banks of the White River as it runs thru Broadripple. The poem truely reflects the calming affect of the river as it passes what was a new and up-coming suburb of his time, now a busy Metropolis. Still today you can drown a worm, but you have to fight the Geese first.

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