Autumn Words

Several nights ago the smell of autumn kept my husband and I company on our evening walk. The  distant, pleasant scent of burning leaves was tinged with distant, pleasant memories. This morning, I opened up my Arbuthnot Anthology of Children’s Literature that I might savor the smell along with some autumn words. My book flopped open and there on two folded, inserted pages was a copy of James Whitcomb Riley’s poem, Little Orphant Annie.  

October in my Christian, Lutheran day school was Martin Luther month, and rightly so. However, my teacher also included a yearly reading of Little Orphant Annie.  Simply handling the photocopied pages brought back the shivers that she sent up my spine as she read.  In a sun filled classroom, surrounded by the litter of the morning and restless classmates, her spooky rendition of this poem plunked me at the feet of “Orhpant Annie.”

I read the poem to my own school children, and later to my children. Four of my grandchildren are visiting this weekend. It is their turn to be introduced to Little Orphant Annie.  I hope I can make them shiver too.

The photocopied sheets are in my anthology because the poem is not included in the book, at least not in my third edition.  To find a copy, I hunted through any number of poetry books,  now an internet search now makes it easy.  It is meant to be read aloud and takes a little practice to get into the rhythm of the dialogue.  It is worth the effort when  little eyes go wide at the words and you are certain the fire is crackling on the hearth, although there is neither fire nor hearth in the room.

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