James Whitcomb Riley

(7 October 1849 - 22 July 1916 / Greenfield, Indiana)

Little Orphant Annie - Poem by James Whitcomb Riley

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

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

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

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

Comments about Little Orphant Annie by James Whitcomb Riley

  • (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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  • (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. (Report) Reply

  • (5/8/2018 10:04:00 AM)


  • (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. (Report) Reply

  • (11/22/2017 9:20:00 AM)

    why so long dude to looong bruh (Report) Reply

  • Paul 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. (Report) Reply

  • (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! (Report) Reply

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

    A great write from a sage for little ones. This is evergreen (Report) Reply

  • (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. (Report) Reply

  • (11/12/2011 9:57:00 AM)

    reminds me of childhood and those lovely stories (Report) Reply

  • (11/12/2011 9:57:00 AM)

    reminds me of childhood and those lovely stories (Report) Reply

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

    An interesting bedtime poetic story for kids! Nice to read! (Report) Reply

  • (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. (Report) Reply

  • (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, , (Report) Reply

  • (4/10/2008 3:00:00 PM)

    whats riely days that sounds cool! (Report) Reply

  • (11/12/2007 2:24:00 PM)

    Entertaining Poem! (Report) Reply

  • Marilyn Lott (5/30/2007 5:01:00 PM)

    My dad read this to me and my brother when we were children. I still have the Jr. Classic set of books that it was in. I read them to my kids and now grandkids. It's a wonderful poem that always made me smile! So nice to find it here and to also read more of Mr. Riley's work.
    (Report) Reply

  • (10/5/2006 1:08:00 AM)

    I loved this poem, my mother would recite it to us when we would go to bed at night and scare the heck out of us. (Report) Reply

  • (11/20/2005 5:38:00 AM)

    I've been hunting for this forever, my Grandma used to read this to all us kids when we were little, I never knew the poet's name, or even the name of the poem. I could only remember bits of it, but today I remembered the first 2 lines and was able to find this site. I'm so happy! ! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • (10/8/2004 8:18:00 PM)

    That is my favorite James Whitcomb Riley poem my teachers always use to read that to us during Riley Days. They'd always love the part where it says mind your parents and your TEACHERS found and dear... I have other favorite poems by Mr. Riley.... (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: fun, fire, girl, house, moon, wind, night, running

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Poem Edited: Saturday, November 12, 2011

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