Monday, October 18, 2010


Barefoot Boys

In the past few years I've read several news articles about the trend, among some runners, of eschewing expensive athletic shoes and instead running barefoot. Like many modern trends, this practice has ancient antecedents. See, e.g.:Socrates generally went barefoot, ἀνυπόδητος (Plato, Symposium 174a, 220b; Plato, Phaedrus 229 a; Aristophanes, Clouds 103, 363).

I borrowed the title of this post from James Greenleaf Whittier's poem Barefoot Boy, which ends with these lines:
Cheerily, then, my little man,
Live and laugh, as boyhood can!
Though the flinty slopes be hard,
Stubble-speared the new-mown sward,
Every morn shall lead thee through
Fresh baptisms of the dew;
Every evening from thy feet
Shall the cool wind kiss the heat:
All too soon these feet must hide
In the prison cells of pride,
Lose the freedom of the sod,
Like a colt’s for work be shod,
Made to treat the mills of toil,
Up and down in ceaseless moil:
Happy if their track be found
Never on forbidden ground;
Happy if they sink not in
Quick and treacherous sands of sin.
Ah! that thou couldst know thy joy,
Ere it passes, barefoot boy!

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