Little Orphant Annie

Original Text: 
James Whitcomb Riley, Complete Works, Memorial edn. in 10 vols. (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1916): V, 1169-72. PS 2700 F16 Robarts Library.
INSCRIBED WITH ALL FAITH AND AFFECTION
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.
1Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
2An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
3An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
5An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
6We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
7A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
10      Don't
11         Watch
12            Out!
14An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
15His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
20An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
21   Ef you
22      Don't
23         Watch
24            Out!
26An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
27An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
28She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
29An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
30They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
31An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
32An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you
33   Ef you
34      Don't
35         Watch
36            Out!
37An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
38An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
39An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
41You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
42An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
44Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you
45   Ef you
46      Don't
47         Watch
48            Out!

Notes

4] board-an'-keep: her food and lodging. Back to Line
8] Gobble-uns 'at gits: the ones who gobble (eat you up) and that gets ... Back to Line
9] Ef: if. Back to Line
13] Wunst they wuz: Once there was ... (a traditional opening for a children's story). Back to Line
16] kivvers: (bed-)covers. Back to Line
17] rafter-room: attic, the room that has the rafters or upper timbers for the house.
cubby-hole: small place for a chest, crib; place for children to hide; snuggery.
cupboard or clothes press. Back to Line
18] chimbly-flue: chimney flue or chamber to contain smoke upwards and outside. Back to Line
19] thist: just.
roundabout: close-fitting short jacket. Back to Line
25] allus: always. Back to Line
40] lightnin'-bugs: fireflies.
squenched: "squelched" (made a sucking sound like something stuck in mud or water) and "quenched" (extinguished). Back to Line
43] he'p: help. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1885
Publication Notes: 
Indianapolis Journal (Nov. 15, 1885), originally published as "The Elf Child."
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: