Appalachia children

Fee Fum foe Fie

Chatter and Chitter

She called out to them, “Fee, fum, foe, fie. All’s not ready holler I.”

“Not I! Not I!” they screamed back happily, returning her gaiety with interest.

“Fee, Fie, foe, fum. All’s not ready now can’t come!” she answered, and closed the door behind her. The clock was striking seven. “We’re getting a soon start,” Mark said.

Excerpt from “The Tall Woman” by Wilma Dykeman


I’ve never heard the little saying shared in Dykeman’s book. I did a few google searches but the only thing they turned up was the more common fee fie foe fum saying in one of the Jack and the Bean Stalk tales.

Since I’ve had to wait on the girls on pretty much every trip we’ve ever taken, I believe I’ll start using it myself. I especially like the line “All’s not ready now can’t come!”


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  • Reply
    Jane W Bolden
    September 20, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    Fee fie foe fum I smell the blood of an English man. Was it from Gulliver’s Travels?

    • Reply
      Jane W Bolden
      September 21, 2018 at 1:03 pm

      I was wrong. Jack and the Beanstalk

  • Reply
    September 20, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    I remember that. Yes Jack and the Bean Stalk. O loved that story as a kid. If we only had some of those golden eggs.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    September 20, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    I gave myself time to think about that one. Nope, not in the memory bank.
    Did Chitter and Chatter lose opposite front teeth at same time?

    • Reply
      September 22, 2018 at 12:07 pm

      AW-yes they did and it was quite a sight 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    September 20, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Fee Fie Foe Fum, I smell the blood of an Irishman.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I think you’re right, Gayle. I recall the giant who lived above the bean stalk chanted it as Jack hid from him after climbing up. The book Mom read the story from had an illustration of a giant stomping along and a small Jack hiding behind a tree.

    Jack slid down the bean stalk and managed to chop it off at the ground so that the slower moving giant fell with the vine and was killed. Oh, happy day, eh? Lots of violence in those old tales delighting us at bed time.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Fe fi fiddlie-i-o
    Fe fi fiddlie-i-o-i-o
    Fe fi fiddlie-i-o
    Strumming on the old banjo

  • Reply
    September 20, 2018 at 8:43 am

    It has been reported that Henry David Thoreau said, “He who travels alone can go now, he who travels with another must wait til the other is ready”. This was in response to a reporter’s question as to why he never married.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    September 20, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Boy, you are really pushing the old memory this morning. All I remember about this was hearing it come from a pirate. I think it went fee fie foe fum I smell the blood of an Englishman. That’s all I recall.

    • Reply
      aw griff
      September 20, 2018 at 11:54 am

      I think it went on as: be he live or be he dead I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.

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