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Thursday, October 31, 2013

HALLOWEEN TALES9: "LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE"

I was a third grader at the Frank V Thompson School in Boston's
Dorchester section when I first read this poem in our English text
book. Years later I used to post it every Halloween on an email
list for a fantasy role playing group. I think our Mom once or twice
recited the "Gobble-uns 'll git you ef you don't watch out!" part. 

 Anyway, it's the best Halloween poem I know. Enjoy.

And `ware th' Gobble-uns!

Little Orphant Annie

by James Whitcomb Riley.

LITTLE Orphant Annie ’s come to our house to stay,   
An’ wash the cups and saucers up, an’ brush the crumbs away,   
An’ shoo the chickens off the porch, an’ dust the hearth, an’ sweep,   
An’ make the fire, an’ bake the bread, an’ earn her board-an’-keep;   
An’ all us other children, when the supper things is done,         
We set around the kitchen fire an’ has the mostest fun   
A-list’nin’ to the witch-tales ’at Annie tells about,   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’at gits you   
        Ef you   
            Don’t           
              Watch   
                Out!   

Onc’t they was a little boy would n’t say his pray’rs—   
An’ when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,   
His mammy heerd him holler, an’ his daddy heerd him bawl,           
An’ when they turn’t the kivvers down, he was n’t there at all!   
An’ they seeked him in the rafter-room, an’ cubby-hole, an’ press,   
An’ seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an’ ever’wheres, I guess;   
But all they ever found was thist his pants an’ roundabout!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you           
        Ef you   
            Don’t   
              Watch   
                Out!   

An’ one time a little girl ’ud allus laugh an’ grin,         
An’ make fun of ever’ one, an’ all her blood-an’-kin;   
An’ onc’t when they was “company,” an’ ole folks was there,   
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she did n’t care!   
An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,   
They was two great big Black Things a-standin’ by her side,          
An’ they snatched her through the ceilin’ ’fore she knowed what she ’s about!   
An’ the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you   
            Don’t   
                Watch          
                    Out!   

An’ little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,   
An’ the lampwick sputters, an’ the wind goes woo-oo!   
An’ you hear the crickets quit, an’ the moon is gray,   
An’ the lightnin’-bugs in dew is allsquenched away,—        
You better mind yer parents, and yer teachers fond and dear,   
An’ churish them ’at loves you, an’ dry the orphant’s tear,   
An’ he’p the pore an’ needy ones ’at clusters all about,   
Er the Gobble-uns ’ll git you   
        Ef you           
            Don’t   
              Watch   
                Out!

2 comments:

Heather Wilkinson Rojo said...

This poem brings up so many memories! My grandmother (who was British) could recite this poem with a terrific mid-West American accent which gave us all the shivers. My Dad could recite it from memory. When I was a student teacher one Halloween when I taught it to a class of 3rd graders in Cambridge, Mass and they were still repeating it up to Christmas break. Generations have loved this poem!

John D. Tew said...

I haven't read or heard this one in a very long time. Thanks for the memories Bill!