Friday, October 31, 2008

The Gobble-uns 'll git you, Ef You Don't Watch Out!

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-listenin' 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' 'for 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' cherish 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!

To all the little children: The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.

-- James Whitcomb Riley, 1885

In case you're wondering, YES, this poem was the basis for the famous comic strip (and later Broadway musical) character, Little Orphan Annie. Poet James Whitcomb Riley was a Hoosier, and most people who grow up in Indiana have this poem read to them at least once in their lifetimes, usually on Halloween. (The poem also inspired the creation of the Raggedy Ann doll, by another Hoosier, Johnny Gruelle.)

Happy Halloween, everyone!


SallyP said...

I'm happy to see that the grand old tradition of scaring the pee out of small children goes so far back!

Happy Halloween!

TF said...

yeah... er... Happy Huh-Halloween.

*hurriedly wipes up pee*

Maxo said...

That was great - happy Halloween!

ComicsAllTooReal's Chris said...

Well, yeah, I'd freak out if I was a kid. lol

Happy Halloween!

Kevin T. said...

Happy Halloween, sea!

Your ghost meez deal-y is great.

MetFanMac said...

Aahh. My favorite Halloween poem ever. Thanks for posting it.

The refrain is one of those things I can't help repeating out loud as soon as I see it; another one is the name of Senator Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus Lamar. (Go on, say it out loud: it just ROLLS right off the tongue.)

Anonymous said...

Heh...I'm from Washington State, but I learned this in school too. Learned it and liked it so much that I used to recite it at auditions instead of a monologue (hey, I was only nine years old!).

Sea_of_Green said...

LOL! Hey, when this poem is read aloud in the right environment, it's VERY effective. It still scares the hell out of kids. :-)