poet James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley

#72 on top 500 poets

Little Orphant Annie

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.

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
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' '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 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
Don't
Watch
Out!

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Poem Edited: Saturday, November 12, 2011

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Comments about Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

  • Lenore Churchwell (9/28/2020 10:44:00 PM)

    I remember this poem from when I was a child back in the fifties. It is still fun to read aloud.

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  • Carrie (7/21/2019 7:26:00 PM)

    I know it nearly by heart

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  • Pat Coulston (6/27/2019 2:47:00 PM)

    I use to read it to children when they were small, love this poem.

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  • Susan Montiel (5/10/2019 2:04:00 PM)

    I learned this poem for recitation in the 4th grade circa 1962. I had an anthology of children's poems which was lost and later tried to find a reprint for my own children and could never find it. It included this lovely poem.

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  • Beverly Baker (2/17/2019 10:53:00 AM)

    I was taught this poem in grade school. Believe it or not it was during speech class. I managed to scare my kids and my grand kids sometimes at bonfires in the yard. I still love this poem.

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  • C J Houston (12/16/2018 5:16:00 PM)

    My mother read this to me and this one is the most remembered she read many more. There's an art to this poet.
    It's the way he speaks.

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  • Laura (8/26/2018 1:25:00 PM)

    I memorized this poem and recited in in elementary school. Forty years later, I'm amazed at how much I still remember! We owned a collection of works by James Whitcomb Riley, and as an avid reader, it was and still is a lifetime favorite.

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  • JUDITH (5/8/2018 10:04:00 AM)

    HAPPY I FOUND THIS POEM, LEARNED PART OF IT WHEN I WAS I SCHOOL.

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  • Cora M Woodward (2/24/2018 7:15:00 AM)

    This is the first time I have heard all of the poem. I heard some of it in grade school but not all of it. I am now 87 years old and enjoying it again after all those years. Thank you.

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  • deterrionrrrr (11/22/2017 9:20:00 AM)

    why so long dude to looong bruh

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  • Paul AmrodPaul Amrod (10/25/2017 5:10:00 PM)

    Perfectly chosen for the goblins and ghouls fun at Halloween! The fantastic usage of the Middle Western dialect is magnificent. With this poem Riley used a very descriptive method of writing our American slang.

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  • Jim Griffin (8/29/2016 10:49:00 PM)

    Riley's Poems of Childhood was a gift for my fifth birthday and I still have the book after 70 plus years. This was always my favourite and I have recited it many times!

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  • Babatunde AremuBabatunde Aremu (11/12/2013 2:59:00 AM)

    A great write from a sage for little ones. This is evergreen

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  • Dale Lain (10/31/2013 11:49:00 PM)

    My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Bertha Griffith, used to read this poem to us at Halloween time. She read it so dramatically that we all believed it was true. Metaphorically, I believe it is. She was one of the very best teachers and role models I had the good luck to know- a saint. I think of how much I appreciate her every year around Halloween when I again read this poem.

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  • Shittin Bull (11/12/2011 9:57:00 AM)

    reminds me of childhood and those lovely stories

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  • Shittin Bull (11/12/2011 9:57:00 AM)

    reminds me of childhood and those lovely stories

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  • Ramesh T ARamesh T A (11/12/2009 2:20:00 AM)

    An interesting bedtime poetic story for kids! Nice to read!

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  • Tasha Linn (10/7/2009 8:20:00 AM)

    I grew up in Indianapolis, and my grandparents were from Greenfield. I can remember soo many times before bed my grandma quoting this poem to me. I loved it. It gave me shivers then and made me think befre I gave them attitude... I would look around for those 'two great big black things' before I smarted off... lol. I think I might have to teach it to my 6 year old, or at least quote it more.

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  • Joey Valenzuela (9/23/2009 10:37:00 PM)

    'tis great, really, to horror your young ones if they become spoiled..hehe...and this poem is a real good one, ,

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  • Isabelita Roc (4/10/2008 3:00:00 PM)

    whats riely days that sounds cool!

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