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“Little Orphant Annie” for Halloween

Author Rita Smith
Air Date 10/29/1999

“Little Orphant Annie” Transcript

James Whitcomb Riley was a widely known Indiana poet ofthe late 1800s. He was so popular that in 1915, a year before his death, the National Commissioner of Education ordered that on his birthday, October 7, a Riley poem was to be read in every classroom in every school in the United States. One of his most loved poems is “Little Orphant Annie,” a humorous, scary cautionary tale inspired by an orphan who lived in the Riley home for a short time. In the evenings as the Riley children gathered around the shadowy kitchen fireplace, she told them stories of goblins, monsters, and ghosts. Twenty years later, Riley wrote “Little Orphant Annie,” a most appropriate poem for Halloween.

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

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’ 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

An’ one time a little girl
‘ud allus laugh an’ grin,
An’ make fun of ever’ one,
an’ allher blood-an’ kin;
An’ wunst, when they was “company,”
an’ ole folks wuz there,
She mocked ’em an’ shocked ’em,
and’ 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

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

Posted in Holidays, Poetry