This poem is one
that my Grandma, Dorothy Wood, R.I.P., and her child-loving brother, Ferman
Pruett, R.I.P., both had memorized to tell us children on Hallowe'en. I hope
your children love it as much as we did when we were little! It was written
by "The Hoosier Poet," James Whitcomb Riley, and so recalls the old Hoosier
vernacular. It is the perfect poem to remind children of the reality of the
Evil One's minions and the importance of being good.
I recommend recounting it by the light of a single candle, as you are all
sitting close together. Tell it in a dramatic, fearful, admonishing voice
with a twangy Hoosier accent... All story-telling is best done if the work
is memorized, so that nothing comes between you and your audience; if you
can tell this poem by heart, all the better. And if you want to tell it like
my Granny and Uncle did, make sure you pause a dramatic beat after each "don't"
"ef you don't
<pause> watch <pause> out!"
To download this
poem in Microsoft Word .doc format, click here. To download
an MP3 of a version of the poem performed by child actress, Sally Hamlin,
recorded in 1917, click here.
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
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
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
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
And at that last
word, jump out at the children and give 'em a good, fun scare! Maybe you
could have someone secretly blow out the candle just then!