Classic and Contemporary Poetry
THE BEAR STORY, by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY Poet's Biography
First Line: W'y, wunst they wuz a little boy
Last Line: -- an' that's all.
Alternate Author Name(s): Johnson Of Boone, Benj. F.
Variant Title(s): Boy's Bear Story
Subject(s): Animals; Bears; Boys; Forests; Woods
W'Y, wunst they wuz a Little Boy went out
In the woods to shoot a Bear. So, he went out
'Way in the grea'-big woods -- he did. -- An' he
Wuz goin' along -- an' goin' along, you know,
An' purty soon he heerd somepin' go "Wooh!"
Ist thataway -- "Woo-ooh!" An' he wuz skeered,
He wuz. An' so he runned an' clumbed a tree --
A grea'-big tree, he did, -- a sicka-more tree.
An' nen he heerd it ag'in: an' he looked round,
An' 't'uz a Bear -- a grea'-big shore-'nuff Bear! --
No: 't'uz two Bears, it wuz -- two grea'-big Bears --
One of 'em wuz -- ist one's a grea'-big Bear. --
But they ist boff went "Wooh!" -- An' here they come
To climb the tree an' git the Little Boy
An' eat him up!
An' nen the Little Boy
He 'uz skeered worse'n ever! An' here come
The grea'big Bear a-climbin' th' tree to git
The Little Boy an' eat him up -- Oh, no! --
It 'uzn't the Big Bear 'at clumb the tree --
It 'uz the Little Bear. So here he come
Climbin' the tree -- an' climbin' the tree! Nen when
He git wite clos't to the Little Boy, w'y, nen
The Little Boy he ist pulled up his gun
An' shot the Bear, he did, an' killed him dead!
An' nen the Bear he falled clean on down out
The tree -- away clean to the ground, he did --
Spling-splung! he falled plum down, an' killed him, too!
An' lit wite side o' where the Big Bear's at.
An' nen the Big Bear's awful mad, you bet! --
'Cause -- 'cause the Little Boy he shot his gun
An' killed the Little Bear. -- 'Cause the Big Bear
He -- he 'uz the Little Bear's Papa. -- An' so here
He come to climb the big old tree an' git
The Little Boy an' eat him up! An' when
The Little Boy he saw the grea'-big Bear
A-comin', he 'uz badder skeered, he wuz,
Than any time! An' so he think he'll climb
Up higher -- 'way up higher in the tree
Than the old Bear kin climb, you know. -- But he --
He can't climb higher 'an old Bears kin climb, --
'Cause Bears kin climb up higher in the trees
Than any little Boys in all the Wo-r-r-ld!
An' so here come the grea'-big Bear, he did, --
A'climbin' up -- an' up the tree, to git
The Little Boy an' eat him up! An' so
The Little Boy he clumbed on higher, an' higher,
An' higher up the tree -- an' higher -- an' higher --
An' higher'n iss-here house is! -- An' here come
The old Bear -- clos'ter to him all the time! --
An' nen -- first thing you know, -- when th' old Big Bear
Wuz wite clos't to him -- nen the Little Boy
Ist jabbed his gun wite in the old Bear's mouf
An' shot an' killed him dead! -- No; I fergot, --
He didn't shoot the grea'-big Bear at all --
'Cause they 'uz no load in the gun, you know --
'Cause when he shot the Little Bear, w'y, nen
No load 'uz any more nen in the gun!
But th' Little Boy clumbed higher up, he did --
He clumbed lots higher -- an' on up
higher -- an' higher
An' higher -- tel he ist can't climb no higher,
'Cause nen the limbs 'uz all so little, 'way
Up in the teeny-weeny tip-top of
The tree, they'd break down wiv him ef he don't
Be keerful! So he stop an' think: An' nen
He look around -- An' here come the old Bear!
An' so the Little Boy make up his mind
He's got to ist git out o' there someway! --
'Cause here come the old Bear! -- so clos't, his bref's
Purt' night so's he kin feel how hot it is
Ag'inst his bare feet -- ist like old "Ring's" bref
When he's be'n out a-huntin' an' 's all tired.
So when th' old Bear's so clos't -- the Little Boy
Ist gives a grea'-big jump fer 'nother tree --
No! -- no, he don't do that! -- I tell you what
The Little Boy does: -- W'y, nen -- w'y, he -- Oh, yes! --
The Little Boy he finds a hole up there
'At's in the tree -- an' climbs in there an' hides --
An' nen th' old Bear can't find the Little Boy
At all! -- but purty soon the old Bear finds
The Little Boy's gun 'at's up there -- 'cause the gun
It's too tall to tooked wiv him in the hole.
So, when the old Bear find' the gun, he knows
The Little Boy's ist hid round somers there, --
An' th' old Bear 'gins to snuff and sniff around,
An' sniff an' snuff around -- so's he kin find
Out where the Little Boy's hid at. -- An' nen -- nen --
Oh, yes! -- W'y, purty soon the old Bear climbs
'Way out on a big limb -- a grea'-long limb, --
An' nen the Little Boy climbs out the hole
An' takes his ax an' chops the limb off! . . . Nen
The old Bear falls k-splunge! clean to the ground,
An' bu'st an' kill hisse'f plum dead, he did!
An' nen the Little Boy he git his gun
An' 'menced a-climbin' down the tree ag'in --
No! -- no, he didn't git his gun -- 'cause when
The Bear falled, nen the gun falled, too -- An' broked
It all to pieces, too! -- An' nicest gun! --
His Pa ist buyed it! -- An' the Little Boy
Ist cried, he did; an' went on climbin' down
The tree -- an' climbin' down -- an' climbin' down! --
An'-sir! when he 'uz purt' nigh down, -- w'y, nen
The old Bear he jumped up ag'in! -- an' he
Ain't dead at all -- ist 'tendin' thataway,
So he kin git the Little Boy an' eat
Him up! But the Little Boy he 'uz too smart
To climb clean down the tree. -- An' the old Bear
He can't climb up the tree no more -- 'cause when
He fell, he broke one of his -- He broke all
His legs! -- an' nen he couldn't climb! But he
Ist won't go 'way an' let the Little Boy
Come down out of the tree. An' the old Bear
Ist growls round there, he does -- ist growls an' goes
"Wooh! -- woo-ooh!" all the time! An' Little Boy
He haf to stay up in the tree -- all night --
An' 'thout no supper neever! -- Only they
Wuz apples on the tree! -- An' Little Boy
Et apples -- ist all night -- an' cried -- an' cried!
Nen when 't'uz morning the old Bear went "Wooh!"
Ag'in, an' try to climb up in the tree
An' git the Little Boy -- But he can't
Climb t' save his soul, he can't! -- An' oh! he's mad! --
He ist tear up the ground! an' go "Woo-ooh!"
An' -- Oh, yes! -- purty soon, when morning's come
All light -- so's you kin see, you know, w'y, nen
The old Bear finds the Little Boy's gun, you know,
'At's on the ground. -- (An' it ain't broke at all --
I ist said that!) An' so the old Bear think
He'll take the gun an' shoot the Little Boy: --
But Bears they don't know much 'bout shootin' guns:
So when he go to shoot the Little Boy,
The old Bear got the other end the gun
Ag'in' his shoulder, 'stid o' th' other end --
So when he try to shoot the Little Boy,
It shot the Bear, it did -- an' killed him dead!
An' nen the Little Boy clumb down the tree
An' chopped his old woolly head off. -- Yes, an' killed
The other Bear ag'in, he did -- an' killed
All boff the bears, he did -- an' tuk 'em home
An' cooked 'em, too, an' et 'em!
-- An' that's all.
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