This comes from a collection of African-American folk rhymes collected nearly a century ago. It's in a dialect.

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*"Hants" = "haunts" = ghosts

It used to be believed that it was bad luck when a screech owl came to your house at night.


According to the book "Negro Folk Rhymes (1922): "This little rhyme is based upon a superstition once current among Negroes, to the effect that bad luck would come when a screech owl called near your home at night unless, upon hearing him, you would stick the handle of a shovel into the fire about which you were sitting, or would throw salt into it."

Thanks and Acknowledgements

This rhyme can be found in Negro Folk Rhymes, Wise and Otherwise, with a Study by Thomas W. Talley of Fisk University (1922).

Standard English version by Lisa Yannucci.