Monday 27 October 2014



Ruth says apples have learned to bob,
Ruth says pumpkins have a job.
Here's the man from the Witching Tree
Ask him since you won't ask me.
Do you think Ruth is telling the truth?

"Man from the Tree, your skin is green.
What night's this?" "It's Hallowe'en."

Ruth, Ruth, you told the truth.
The man says apples have learned to bob,
The man says pumpkins do have a job,
The man came down from the Witching Tree
Says he wants someone. No, not me.
Says he wants someone good and true - You!

Mother, Mother, Ruth's gone flying!
Hush, children, stop that crying.

Mother, Mother, she's up the Tree!
Climb up and tell me what you see.

Mother, she's higher than I can climb!
She'll be back by breakfast time.

Mother, what if she's gone for good?
She'll have to make do with witches' food.

Mother, what do witches eat?
Milk, potatoes and You, my sweet.

John Ciardi.

Arilx PS The witch is on the front of a house near my parents's home. As a child I always wondered if an actual witch lived there. It's a big Victorian house that's been sold many times and I felt strangely bereft when the latest owners took her down. Thankfully I soon discovered it was only whilst the outside of the house was being repainted and she was soon restored to pride of place.


  1. Hello! I just wanted to thank you for posting this poem online as I have been hunting for it for many years. I read it in a book of (possibly spooky-themed) poems which was in our primary school library but could only vaguely remember a couple of lines ("Mother mother Ruth's gone flying / hush my children, stop that crying" and "Mother mother what do witches eat? / [........] and YOU, my sweet"). I'd be interested to know where you found this poem from yourself? I also agree that the witch on that house is a fascinating detail, I wonder if there is a story behind it. Regards, Nancy

  2. It came from a book of Halloween poems that was mine as a child [I'm 48 now!] which my Mum still has on her shelf!

  3. Hi, it was possibly the same book then! I'm 39 now :-) thanks tons! x

  4. Yes thank you for sharing the full poem, I too read it in a wonderful book in primary school, I remember it every Hallowe’en, but nevercthe full version! The book I read it in I’m sure was from one of the delightful “Tales of the....” series published by Ginn and Co. xoxox

    PS sorry- on second thoughts no! It was a green book called “Witches” (the title was in a witchy font in yellow) and it contained this gem amongst others including:

    “The witch!
    The witch!
    Don’t let her get you
    Or your Aunt wouldn’t know you
    The next time she met you!”

  5. Also “The Witch” was written by Eleanor Farjean



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