aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,
aefenglommung
aefenglommung

Another poem for Hallowe'en

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 wouldn'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 wasn'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 didn'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 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 parents, an' yer teachers 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!


Originally titled, "The Elf Child," this poem is not particularly about Hallowe'en, but its creepy warning about the Goblins that'll get you if you don't watch out makes it an appropriate choice for this time of year.

There's a lot of social history in this little poem, too -- about orphans, certainly, and the poor, and the outsider.  The family taking Annie in is certainly doing her a kindness, but she's expected to earn her keep, too.  Is she just a servant, then?  Or does she really belong?  One gets the feeling that she is somewhat older than the other children in the house; they'll be expected to contribute to the family's load of work, too, in time to come.  The poem was written in 1885, and perhaps looks back to attitudes and practices current in the author's own childhood days (Riley was born in 1849).

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