John Heaton (jheaton) wrote,
John Heaton
jheaton

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Happy All Hallow's Eve

If you've ever seen the movie Hollywood Revue of 1929, you're no doubt familiar with its tribute to one of the all-time great horror film actors, "Lon Chaney Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out." When I heard that song a few weeks ago, it triggered a memory of a poem that was read to me as a wee bairn. I couldn't remember the title or the author, but I did remember that each stanza concluded with the phrase, "and the goblins will get you if you don't watch out!" So I poked around a bit on the web and found it. I was going to post it that evening, but I ultimately decided that it would be more appropriate to post it on Hallowe'en. And here it is!

James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)
Little Orphant Annie

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.

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!

Tags: poet's corner
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