Walter Dean Meyers

Love That Boy by Walter Dean Meyers

‘Love That Boy’ by Walter Dean Meyers is a short, sweet poem. In it, the speaker describes his love for his son.

The lines are all quite short, using only a few words each, and many of them repeated. The speaker spends the lines describing his son through similes, some of which are connected to his family history. Despite the specific comparisons, many different readers should be able to relate to this speaker’s depiction of his love in ‘Love that Boy.’ The poem taps into themes that are very applicable to a wide array of people. 

Love That Boy by Walter Dean Meyers


Love That Boy’ by Walter Dean Meyers is a simple poem in which the speaker describes his love for his son.

The poem describes the speaker’s son, someone who smiles a great deal and reminds the speaker of other family members. He’s very loveable, and the speaker is determined to continue to love him as much as possible. He’s going to love him “like a rabbit loves to run.” The speaker also knows that his mother loves him and that as he grows up, he’s going to have a long path to walk. The son is going to turn into a good man, the speaker believes, suggesting that he walked a similar path in his life. 

You can read the full poem here.

Detailed Analysis 

Stanza One 

Love that boy,
like a rabbit loves to run
love to call him
‘Hey there, son!’

In the first stanza of this piece, the speaker addresses the reader, telling them they“Love that boy / like a rabbit loves to run.” This simple initial simile is followed by several others that convey the depth with which they should and do love this boy. In the final line of the stanza, the speaker reveals the relationship between himself and the boy. He is the boy’s father. 

Stanzas Two and Three

When he sad, he grins again.

His mama like to hold him,
She can have him now,

I’ll get him by and by

In the second stanza, the speaker returns to some of the same images from the first. He mentions again the heritage the two share and how, in the boy’s face and actions, he can see his own father and his own brother. There is a compulsion to smile when things are good and when things are bad. 

The third stanza mentions the mother who “like to feed him cherry pie” and to “hold him.” His mother gets time with him, and the speaker says she can “have him now” and that he’ll get him “by and by.” The father will also get a turn to connect with his son. 

Stanza Four 

He got long roads to walk down
Before the setting sun.
He’ll be a long stride walker,
And a good man before he done.

The speaker addresses his son’s future in the final stanza. He knows his son, as he did, has a long path ahead of him. It might not be an easy road either. It’s a “long, long road,” he adds. This seems to emphasize the fact that life is long, complex, and hard. But, the speaker knows that he’ll work hard and take long strides, doing his best to get through life as well as possible. In the end, the speaker also knows his son is going to be “a good man before he is done.” Before he reaches the sunset or the end of his life, he’s going to be a good man. The definition of “a good man” is not provided, meaning that readers need to make assumptions about what the speaker is thinking. 

Structure and Form 

‘Love That Boy’ by Walter Dean Meyers is a four-stanza poem that is divided into one set of seven lines and three sets of six. The poem does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or metrical pattern, but there is a great deal of repetition within its lines. For example, in the first stanza, the words “boy” and “run” end two lines each. 

Literary Devices 

Throughout ‘Love That Boy,’ the poet makes use of several literary devices. These include but are not limited to: 

  • Epistrophe: can be seen when the poet repeats the same word or words at the end of multiple lines. For example, “run” which ends two lines in the first stanza and “him” and “pie” which both end two lines in the second stanza. 
  • Anaphora: can be seen when the poet repeats the same word or words at the beginning of multiple lines. For example, “love” which starts three lines in the first stanza and “Grins” which starts two lines in the second stanza.
  • Simile: occurs when the poet makes a comparison between two things using “like” or “as.” In this case, “He walks like his Grandpa” and “Grins like his Uncle Ben.” 


Who is the speaker in ‘Love That Boy?’ 

The speaker is a father who is thinking about his son. The lines address what his son looks like, how he acts, and the love the speaker has for him. He shares him with his mother, but he knows that he’ll get to connect with his son too and that he’ll grow up into a good man. 

What is the tone of ‘Love That Boy?’ 

The tone is passionate. The speaker loves his son, and through these lines, that love is clearly relayed. He appreciates the small things about his “boy” that others might not notice and is determined to help him become a good man. 

What is the purpose of ‘Love That Boy?’ 

The purpose is to share the speaker’s love for his son and encourage others to love their children with a similar passion. The speaker wants to share with anyone listening how much he cares about his “boy.” 

What is the meaning of ‘Love That Boy?’ 

The meaning is that one should love their children with as much love as they can possibly muster. Just like rabbits love to run, and other similes that the author so creatively came up with. 

Similar Poetry 

Readers who enjoyed ‘Love That Boy’ should also consider reading some related poems. For example: 

Discover the Essential Secrets

of Poetry

Sign up to unveil the best kept secrets in poetry,

brought to you by the experts

Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Best-Kept Secrets of Poetry

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry ever straight to your inbox

Discover and learn about the greatest poetry, straight to your inbox

Start Your Perfect Poetry Journey

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap