‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ is one of the best-known poems written by the little-known poet John Walsh. His poems are published in a number of collections. The simplicity of his language and the rhyming of lines are what make his poems dear to little readers. In ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready,’ Walsh presents a child who is in a hurry in order to reach her destination. She keeps an apple with her side in case she feels hungry or to keep the bullies away.
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‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ by John Walsh is a poem about a child who gets ready to leave and keeps an apple in case she needs it.
This poem presents a child character who gets ready by plaiting her hair tightly and wearing a blue bow. She has her satchel with her and she feels confident as everything is in its place. In a hurry, she skips her breakfast and bids her mother goodbye.
At first, she speeds up but as she approaches Hodson’s Yard her pace becomes slow. She knows a bully named Bill Craddock is always wanting her there. He snatches off her beret and throws it in a tree. Today, Bill is as usual there. With slow yet steady feet, she keeps going as she has got an apple ready for him.
You can read the full poem here.
Walsh’s ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ consists of a total of ten stanzas. Each stanza contains four rhyming lines. The rhyme scheme of this piece is ABCB, also known as the ballad rhyme. It means the second and fourth lines of each stanza rhyme together. For example, in the first stanza, “bow” (line 2) and “go” (line 4) are the rhyming pair of words. Regarding the meter, Walsh mostly uses the iambic meter. There are a few metrical variations (trochees and spondees) as well.
Walsh makes use of the following literary devices in ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’.
- Alliteration: It occurs in “bright blue bow”, “pit-a-pat”, “tarred/ Trackway”, “somehow sad”, etc. In these examples, the same sounds are repeated in neighboring words.
- Anaphora: The second and third lines of the first stanza begin with the same word “I”. It is an example of anaphora. It also occurs in the last stanza.
- Anticipation: In the lines “And I’ve got an apple ready,/ Just in case”, the poet uses this device.
- Enjambment: This device is used in a number of instances. It makes readers go through the consecutive lines and creates suspense in the transition of lines. For instance, it occurs in “But slow and more slow/ As I reach the tarred/ Trackway that runs/ By Hodson’s Yard”.
- Repetition: In the fifth, sixth, and seventh stanzas the name “Bill” is repeated a fair number of times, for the sake of emphasis.
My hair’s tightly plaited;
And now I must go.
John Walsh’s poem ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ is a poem about a child who is in a hurry. The first stanza introduces readers to the character. Besides, this piece is written from her perspective. She is the sole speaker of the poem.
The speaker is ready to leave. She has her hair tightly plaited as she has to run along the way to reach her destination. There is a bow around her neck that is of bright blue color. She does not feel like having breakfast as she is in a hurry.
Walsh creates a sense of urgency through the short lines that do not halt in the middle. The term “bow” rhymes perfectly with “go”. But, the rest of the lines do not rhyme at all.
My satchel’s on my shoulder;
Just in case.
The second stanza, like the previous one, presents a complete idea. Walsh concluded this stanza using an end-stopped line. In this section, the speaker says that she has her satchel (a bag with a long strap carried across the shoulder). From the usage of this term, it seems the speaker is in a hurry to reach her school in time. She can be heading for another purpose too.
Everything is in its order. She is perfectly dressed up. Her hair is in order and she has her bag. The most important thing that the poet hints at by the title, is the “apple”. It is also there with her. She has kept it just in case she needs it on the way. If she feels hungry for skipping her breakfast, she can eat it. But, it can also come in another use. The answer lies in the upcoming stanzas.
So it’s ‘Goodbye, Mother!’
On pit-a-pat feet,
Now, it’s time to say goodbye to her mother. She does so and leaves. The first two lines of this stanza are comparably longer than the last ones. Walsh uses this scheme to accelerate the pace of lines. It aptly reflects the speaker’s haste.
At first, she flares up her pace on “pit-a-pat” feet. The term “pit-a-pat” reflects the sound of light steps on the street. It resonates with the sound the child’s shoes make while she runs down the street. It is a use of onomatopoeia.
The last line of this section does not end with an end-stopped line. Walsh enjambs this section with the following one.
But slow and more slow
By Hodson’s Yard;
The fourth stanza marks a shift in the speaker’s pace of running. At first, she runs swiftly. But, her speed grows slow as she nears the tarred Trackway. The track runs by Hodson’s Yard. It is not clear why the speaker does so. Readers can sense as her speed slows down, so does the pace of the lines. The poet uses some hard “k” and “d” sounds for this purpose. There is a repetition of the “d” sound in “Hodson’s Yard”.
For it’s there sometimes
And throw it in a tree.
The fifth stanza of ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ provides an answer to the speaker’s change in pace. She knows that a boy named Bill Craddock always waits there with naughty instincts. He waits there for her and snatches off her beret. Then he throws it in a tree. The soft and submissive side of the speaker is reflected in this section. She does not confront her. In this situation, she plays an innocent victim. The villain (or bully) of the tale is Bill Craddock.
Bill Craddock is leaning
And dirty nails;
In the sixth stanza, Walsh uses imagery in order to describe the features of Bill. He leans on Hodson’s rails and waits for the child to come. He has thin hands and dirty nails. These features of the boy hint at the background of the boy. He is poor and uneducated of basic hygiene. His “thin hands” show how malnourished the boy is.
In this way, Walsh also shows another facade of the bully. He is also a child but not taken care of. Like a wild bush, he grows on his own. Sometimes, the twigs bent not according to social standards. That does not make the boy a complete villain. What he does to the child, he does out of playfulness.
Besides, the poet presents a contrast between the haves and have-nots through the features of the child and Bill.
Bill with a front tooth
And somewhat sad.
The seventh stanza provides further insight into the feature of Bill. His broken front tooth is visible easily. It is bad as he does not keep them clean regularly. He lacks a sense of cleanliness that is reflected through his teeth. Walsh uses alliteration of the “b” sound in the first two lines. It creates an internal rhyming.
In the next line, the speaker describes his eyes. His “dark eyes” are a symbol of cruelty and bad motives. The darkened eyes also show that he is not well-fed. Walsh’s speaker finds a sense of sadness in his dark eyes. This sadness originates from the absence of affection. It probably molded him into the “Bill Craddock” that she fears.
Often there are workmen,
He’ll be there.
In the eighth stanza, the speaker says that Bill cannot bully her all the time. When there are workmen around Hodson’s Yard, he does not dare to play tricks with her. However, she does not think workmen will be there this morning. So, she anticipates that Bill can snatch off her cap again. This stanza makes readers think about what is going to happen with the child. As they also know, Bill will be there. But, the child has something with her that can save her from impending danger.
At the corner he will pounce …
In an ordinary way.
The child waits and speculates what she is going to do when she encounters Bill. She thinks he will pounce at her with his evil motives. In the first line, the usage of the term “pounce” somehow depicts the boy as a wild creature who will pounce at the girl as if she is his prey. The poet uses ellipsis at the end of the first line.
But, there is nothing to worry about. She has wisely got an apple with her. When Bill confronts her, she would give the apple to him. She is going to tell her that she has an apple in an ordinary fashion. The child does not want to show Bill that she is afraid of him.
I’ll push it in his hand
The last stanza of ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ describes what the child is going to do after the encounter with Bill. She will push the apple in his hand in the form of a bribe. It is a compassionate weapon to fend off the bullies like Bill.
After giving him the apple, she will walk straight on. When she gets around the corner of Hodson’s Yard, she will start running again. In this way, she does not save herself from possible harassment but also reaches her destination in time.
John Walsh’s poem ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ appears in The New Oxford Book of Children’s Verse. It was also published in The Complete School Verse, edited by Jennifer Curry. This collection contains some other poems written by Walsh that include ‘Bus to School’ and ‘From the Classroom Window’. Little is known about the poet. He is a 20th-century poet who mostly wrote poems for children. In ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready,’ Walsh presents the story of a child who is in a hurry. She has got an apple if the need arises. This piece also shows the contrast between a well-off child and one who is malnourished, unloved, and uneducated.
John Walsh’s poem ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ is about a child. She is in a hurry. To reach her destination on time, she hastily leaves home, skipping her breakfast. Fortunately, she has got an apple that she would eat if hungry. She thinks of giving it to a boy named Bill Craddock who bullies her.
It is a children’s poem that contains a regular rhyme scheme and meter. The rhyme scheme of this piece is ABCB and the poet mostly uses the iambic meter. There are a total of ten quatrains or stanzas having four lines each.
The speaker of the poem is a child. Walsh writes this piece from her perspective, using the first-person pronoun “I”. This gives a lyrical quality to the poem. The speaker remains in a hurry throughout the piece as she has to reach her destination on time.
The bully is Bill Craddock. He waits for the child in the poem near Hodson’s Yard. Whenever she crosses the road, the boy comes and snatches her beret away. Then he throws it in a tree. The boy has thin hands and dirty nails. He is malnourished and his darkened eyes reflect his sadness.
The child primarily has an apple with her as she skips her breakfast. She is in a hurry so she does not want to have her breakfast. If she feels hungry on the way, she can have the apple that she takes with her. But, she thinks of giving it to Bill Craddock who always bullies her.
Readers who have enjoyed John Walsh’s ‘I’ve Got an Apple Ready’ can also find the following poems interesting.
- ‘Being Brave at Night’ by Edgar Guest — This poem is about a speaker who is not afraid of the creatures that scare other kids at night. Read more Edgar Guest poems.
- ‘The Apple-Raid’ by Vernon Scannell — This poem explores how a group of children went out of town to raid gardens for apples. Explore more Vernon Scannell poems.
- ‘After Apple-Picking’ by Robert Frost — It’s one of the best-known poems of Robert Frost. This piece is about an apple picker’s thoughts after a day of work. Read more Robert Frost poems.