The Emperor Has No Clothes

The Emperor Has No Clothes


I’m often told ‘twas a lovely day,

No doubt the sun was warm the air was clear.

In preening pride he stepped out the way,

The crowds ready primed to raise fine cheers.


On his way he went, basking in the praise

“Such beauty” and “such marvellous sewing”

He heard on this most wonderful of days,

So much they loved his colours glowing.


Those who admired with the finest of taste

Agreed that such style they had never known.

Their own fashions, clothes, all were now but waste,

Tomorrow they would wear what he had worn.


The Emperor knew ‘twas but a noble eye

Could see so fine and then appreciate,

He knew that this they knew, he ambled by

As weavers unseen left the city gate.


While all could see what they all said they saw

Alone in the crowd it was one small boy

Who cried out, “look, but he is in the raw?”

His tiny voice burst false deceiving joy.


First in horror to open mouths hands flew

Now being caught none knew where to look.

The boy said what he saw and it was true,

Thus self-deceit became an open book.


Far better now to laugh, to point the finger,

Not at themselves, of course, but at their king.

So now the poor man could no more linger,

Tears filled his eyes, they began to sting.


They jeered, they sneered, they drove him away

Their own role, the pompous part they played

Was something they could never admit or say,

All hoped that with time all this would fade.


The mother and father of that young boy

Had worries and cares and fears of their own

As those who tell the truth must often cry

Unwanted by the crowd or by the throne.


For he is not welcome who shows the truth,

And cannot stay long in his native land.

Like prophets of old they will him pursue,

Exile is the only card in his hand.


In the dark of that night when soldiers came

Searching and seeking out a voice to still,

They played their own part in life’s cruel game

Fulfilling their own master’s wicked will.


To save face all round for all concerned

The boy and his family they now would seize.

Dangerous truth had punishment earned,

Simple words those in power did not please.



He was gone like the weavers far away,

His parents knew what would come, what to do.

Truth meant here was a place they could not stay,

Lingering a choice they would surely rue.


Going over the hills and far away,

A difficult dangerous road they took.

Among those people they could no more stay

Safe now they’d write their lives as their own book.


Original painting by Iris Meade, Wexford based artist, used with kind permission.

Author: connellykevin

Writer, poet and photographer. Lover of all musical genres, from acoustic to zydeco. Born in Ireland of Scottish descent and proud of both. "I sought a theme and sought for it in vain, I sought it daily for six weeks or so" WB YEATS Many of the themes here presented and to be presented have taken me a lifetime rather than six weeks. Some have taken mere moments to arrive. All are offered freely and it is my hope that you, dear reader, will gain something by browsing here and that I in turn will gain something by presenting these works to you.

14 thoughts on “The Emperor Has No Clothes”

  1. This is the way truth has always been dealt with- I’ve always loved this story but I never really thought about what happened to the boy who spoke the truth. Thank you Connelly for bringing the thought to mind.

  2. ah it can be very unpopular to tell the truth, esp. if no one really wants to hear it… i wanna learn from that kid… and isn’t it frightening how blind we can be if enough people tell us the same thing long enough

  3. Telling the boy’s story.. yes that bears much truth.. kill the messanger, and I’m glad he escaped.. Having grown up with H-C- Andersen stories.. I must say he’s a perfect examplet of a great story teller… so many of his short stories became part of our litterary heritage.

  4. So often the one who tells the truth is the one who is not accepted. I have always liked the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes. It can symbolize SO many different situations one encounters in life.

  5. Interesting. Taking the boy’s perspective who told the truth, you have rhythmically given a new life to the popular story. I liked the flow and how you narrated the bitter truth… of those who speak shall be silenced. I liked it… makes a really good read.

  6. isnt it interesting in our society how we destroy the whistle blowers…those willing to stand up and tell the true regardless of consequence because they rock the boat of comfortableness…great play off the familiar story as well…good job they chose to live their lives in their truth…

  7. This is classic story narrated and presented in classic rhyming quatrain ~ How sad to see it from the parents of the boy & boy himself who told the truth ~ No one wants to hear the truth sadly ~ This is a lovely poetic response to the challenge ~

  8. I enjoy adventurous rhymes, like “truth” and “pursue.” Sometimes I find myself losing essence to arbitrary accommodation. I suppose there is a lot of truth in fairytales, otherwise we would have stopped telling them long ago. “Thus self-deceit became an open book,” is a line that stood out for me. Thanks.

  9. A story well told.
    I very much agree with Brian – whistle blowers are very brave and sorely supported..Anna :o]

  10. What a great thing to write – the epilogue to a favourite childhood story. You’ve done a wonderful parable here, Kevin – I was totally engrossed. And I really liked your gently rhyming. Well done. xVivienne (writing as part of OneVoice Poetry this week)

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