Little Orphant Annie

by


Little Orphant Annie is the poem that inspired "Annie" comics, musicals, movies, and book adaptations. It was originally published as The Elf Child in the Indianapolis Journal in November, 1885. Riley was inspired by a girl named Mary Alice "Allie" Smith, who would become popularly known as "Little Orphan Annie" the red-headed girl who sang "Tomorrow" and "The Hard Knocked Life."
An illustration for the story Little Orphant Annie by the author James Whitcomb Riley
Annie, the original Broadway musical poster, 2006
An illustration for the story Little Orphant Annie by the author James Whitcomb Riley
Annie, the original Broadway musical poster, 2006
An illustration for the story Little Orphant Annie by the author James Whitcomb Riley
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 children, 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!
Mary Alice Smith, inspiration for Annie, 1863
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!

Enjoy this and other whimsical poems in our collection of Children's Poems.


8

facebook share button twitter share button google plus share button tumblr share button reddit share button email share button share on pinterest pinterest


Create a library and add your favorite stories. Get started by clicking the "Add" button.
Add Little Orphant Annie to your own personal library.

Return to the James Whitcomb Riley Home Page, or . . . Read the next poem; Old Aunt Mary's

Or read more short stories for kids in our Children's Library

Anton Chekhov
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Susan Glaspell
Mark Twain
Edgar Allan Poe
Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
Herman Melville
Stephen Leacock
Kate Chopin
Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson