Little Willie stood under an apple tree old,
The fruit was all shining with crimson and gold,
Hanging temptingly low; — how he longed for a bite,
Though he knew if he took one it wouldn’t be right.
Said he, “I don’t see why my father should say,
‘Don’t touch the old apple tree, Willie, to-day;’
I shouldn’t have thought — now they’re hanging so low —
When I asked for just one, he should answer me ‘No.’
“He would never find out if I took but just one,
And they do look so good, shinging out in the sun,
There are hundred and hundreds, and he wouldn’t miss
So paltry a little red apple as this.”
He stretched forth his hand, but a low, mournful strain,
Came wandering dreamily over his brain;
In his bosom a beautiful harp had long laid,
That the angel of conscience quite frequently played.
And he sang, “Little Willie, beware, O beware!
Your father has gone, but your Maker is there;
How sad you would feel, if you heard the Lord say,
‘This dear little boy stole an apple to-day.'”
Then Willie turned round, and, as still as a mouse,
Crept slowly and carefully into the house;
In his own little chamber he knelt down to pray
That the Lord would forgive him, and please not to say,
“Little Willie almost stole an apple to-day.”
Published March 03, 1860 in the Barre Gazette (Massachusetts)
Clearly not our Little Willie. First there is the length of the poem — brevity is critical for Little Willie’s to carry their stingingly macabre punch. But the issue of form irregularities are relatively insignificant once the reader considers that our special Little Willie, who has no compunction about “bashing open baby’s head”, would never pause to consider the moral repercussions of stealing an apple.
And if, in a weak moment, our Little Willie did stop to reflect on right and wrong, he would faithfully come down on the side of stealing not only the apple that first caught his attention, but every apple in the orchard.