OH! the old swimmin’-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
Sounded like the laugh of something we onc’t ust to know
Before we could remember anything but the eyes
Of the angels lookin’ out as we left Paradise;
But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
And it’s hard to part ferever with the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! In the happy days of yore,
When I ust to lean above it on the old sickamore,
Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
That gazed back at me so gay and glorified,
It made me love myself, as I leaped to caress
My shadder smilin’ up at me with sich tenderness.
But them days is past and gone, and old Time’s tuck his toll
From the old man come back to the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! In the long, lazy days
When the humdrum of school made so many run-a-ways,
How plesant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
Whare the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plane
You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
They was lots o’ fun on hands at the old swimmin’-hole.
But the lost joys is past! Let your tears in sorrow roll
Like the rain that ust to dapple up the old swimmin’-hole.

Thare the bullrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
And the sunshine and shadder fell over it all;
And it mottled the worter with amber and gold
Tel the glad lilies rocked in the ripples that rolled;
And the snake-feeder’s four gauzy wings fluttered by
Like the ghost of a daisy dropped out of the sky,
Or a wownded apple-blossom in the breeze’s controle
As it cut acrost some orchard to’rds the old swimmin’-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin’-hole! When I last saw the place,
The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
Whare the old divin’-log lays sunk and fergot.
And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be–
But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin’-hole.

Analysis, meaning and summary of James Whitcomb Riley's poem The Old Swimmin’-Hole

3 Comments

  1. Sydney says:

    Ithink it ment that he was telling about the old swimming hole and what he and his family did there. He told everything that he new about the old swimming hole.There were no swimming pools to go to back then. he thought it was a good idia to write some poams about his life.I wonder way he wanted to write about his life.

  2. IBAL says:

    I think Riley is one of our finest poets. Also recommend “Out to Old Aunt Mary’s” which is my favorite poem by him but is not listed in this compendum.

  3. wbpoet says:

    The lttle crick that looked look like a sleeping river comparison is only one of Rileys witty and unique ways of comparing things. a great poem until you read he is ready to give up on life at the end which is sad.
    But we all must go And i sense he new it was close to his time………………wbpoet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by James Whitcomb Riley better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.