Little Boy Bad And Little Girl Rude

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

My nurse she tells me stories, too,
To make me good, she says; but I
She scares me so! I want to cry:
And if my father ever knew,
I guess he'd make things pretty hot,
And show her that she'd better not.

Last night I could n't sleep, because
She scared me with a story; yes,
Because I had been bad, I guess,
And said I hated Santa Claus
And everything: and then she told
This story that just made me cold:


Little Boy Bad, a way he had
Of making his father and mother mad;
Until one day he ran away
To a wood where the cats of the witches stay.
And there he tarried awhile to play,
For a little while in the witches' way.


When night drew nigh he heard a cry,
And in every bush he saw an eye.
Then, three by three, from every tree
Big coal-black cats came stealthily,
With great green eyes that seemed to be
As big as the moon in a graveyard tree.


Upon the ground they ringed him round,
And glared at him without a sound;
And with the glare he felt his hair
Rise slowly, slowly in despair,
While hard he shook from feet to hair.


Then down the gloom, upon her broom,
An old hag-witch came shrieking, "Room!"
Then snarled, "Hold tight! You're mine to-night!"
And grabbed and whisked him out of sight.
And no one's seen him since that night.


Little Girl Rude was never good,
And never did the thing she should.
And so one day she ran away
To a wood where the owls of the goblins stay:
And there for a while she stopped to play,
For a little while in the goblins' way.


When night drew near she seemed to hear
A noise of wings in the ivy sere;
Then a hooting cry went shuddering by;
And in every tree she saw an eye,
A great round eye in each tree near by.


Then, two by two, from the ivy flew
Gaunt ghost-gray owls with eyes steel-blue:
And, wing to wing, within a ring,
Around her they began to swing,
And made the woods with hootings ring.


And, as the brood tu-whit-tu-whooed,
Oh, how she wished she had been good!
Her hair arose; from head to toes
Her marrow slowly, slowly froze,
While hard she shivered, teeth and toes.


And then she saw a hairy claw
Reach from beneath and clutch and draw,
Till in the ground her feet she found
While goblin laughter circled round.
And since that night she's not been found.

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