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Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

In honor of the spooky days ahead this month, I thought I’d share another James Whitcomb Riley poem with you.  Believe it or not, I had to memorize this one way back in the dark ages, when I was in fifth grade.  I fell in love with the dialect that Riley so favored in his country style, and have never forgotten it.  Okay, I’m lying.  I’ve forgotten huge chunks of it, but still…I remember many lines from it, and the gist of the whole story.  Maybe you will, too, once you’ve read it.  Enjoy!

Little Orphant Annie

by

James Whitcomb Riley

 LITTLE Orphant Annie’s come to our house to stay,
        An’ wash the cups an’ 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 childern, 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!
         
        Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn’t say his prayers,–
        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 wuzn’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 wuz 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’ wunst, when they was “company,” an’ ole folks wuz there,
        She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em, an’ said she didn’t care!
        An’ thist as she kicked her heels, an’ turn’t to run an’ hide,
        They wuz 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 lamp-wick 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 all squenched away,–
        You better mind yer parunts, an’ yer teachurs fond an’ 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!

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4 thoughts on “Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

  1. I don’t believe I have ever read the whole poem. Thank you for that!!

    Like

  2. You’re welcome, SC! Really glad you enjoyed it. I always thought it was a lot of fun. Riley is one of the poets whose work is even better read aloud.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Like

  3. My mom used to read this poem to my sis and me, and we were so scared. What a classic.

    Like

  4. I don’t think my parents ever read it, even for themselves. They weren’t much for poetry, sadly. But I sure loved it, anyway. Nice to see you, Alice!

    Like

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