By Paul Laurence Dunbar
(1872 - 1906)
 
 
A Corn-Song
 
 
ON the wide veranda white,
In the purple failing light,
Sits the master while the sun is lowly burning;
And his dreamy thoughts are drowned
In the softly flowing sound
Of the corn-songs of the field-hands slow returning.
 
        Oh, we hoe de co’n
        Since de ehly mo’n;
        Now de sinkin’ sun
        Says de day is done.
 
O’er the fields with heavy tread,
Light of heart and high of head,
Though the halting steps be labored, slow, and weary;
Still the spirits brave and strong
Find a comforter in song,
And their corn-song rises ever loud and cheery.
 
        Oh, we hoe de co’n
        Since de ehly mo’n;
        Now de sinkin’ sun
        Says de day is done.
 
To the master in his seat,
Comes the burden, full and sweet,
Of the mellow minor music growing clearer,
As the toilers raise the hymn,
Thro’ the silence dusk and dim,
To the cabin’s restful shelter drawing nearer.
 
        Oh, we hoe de co’n
        Since de ehly mo’n;
        Now de sinkin’ sun
        Says de day is done.
 
And a tear is in the eye
Of the master sitting by,
As he listens to the echoes low-replying,
To the music’s fading calls,
As it faints away and falls
Into silence, deep within the cabin dying.
 
        Oh, we hoe de co’n
        Since de ehly mo’n;
        Now de sinkin’ sun
        Says de day is done.
 
 
A Death Song
 
 
LAY me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
Whah de branch ’ll go a-singin’ as it pass.
  An’ w’en I ’s a-layin’ low,
  I kin hyeah it as it go
Singin’, “Sleep, my honey, tek yo’ res’ at las’.”
 
Lay me nigh to whah hit meks a little pool,
An’ de watah stan’s so quiet lak an’ cool,
  Whah de little birds in spring
  Ust to come an’ drink an’ sing,
An’ de chillen waded on dey way to school.
 
Let me settle w’en my shouldahs draps dey load
Nigh enough to hyeah de noises in de road;
  Fu’ I t’ink de las’ long res’
  Gwine to soothe my sperrit bes’
Ef I ’s layin’ ’mong de t’ings I ’s allus knowed.
 
 
Harriet Beecher Stowe
 
 
SHE told the story, and the whole world wept
At wrongs and cruelties it had not known
But for this fearless woman’s voice alone.
She spoke to consciences that long had slept:
Her message, Freedom’s clear reveille, swept
From heedless hovel to complacent throne.
Command and prophecy were in the tone,
And from its sheath the sword of justice leapt.
Around two peoples swelled a fiery wave,
But both came forth transfigured from the flame.
Blest be the hand that dared be strong to save,
And blest be she who in our weakness came—
Prophet and priestess! At one stroke she gave
A race to freedom and herself to fame.
 
 
Hymn
 
 
O LI’L’ lamb out in de col’,
De Mastah call you to de fol’,
        O li’l’ lamb!
He hyeah you bleatin’ on de hill;
Come hyeah an’ keep yo’ mou’nin’ still,
        O li’l’ lamb!
 
De Mastah sen’ de Shepud fo’f;
He wandah souf, he wandah no’f,
      O li’l’ lamb!
He wandah eas’, he wandah wes’;
De win’ a-wrenchin’ at his breas’,
        O li’l’ lamb!
 
Oh, tell de Shepud whaih you hide;
He want you walkin’ by his side,
        O li’l’ lamb!
He know you weak, he know you so’;
But come, don’ stay away no mo’,
        O li’l’ lamb!
 
An’ af’ ah while de lamb he hyeah
De Shepud’s voice a-callin’ cleah—
        Sweet li’l’ lamb!
He answah f’om de brambles thick,
“O Shepud, I ’s a-comin’ quick”—
        O li’l’ lamb!
 
 
On the Road
 
 
I’ S boun’ to see my gal to-night—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
De moon ain’t out, de stars ain’t bright—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
Dis hoss o’ mine is pow’ful slow,
But when I does git to yo’ do’
Yo’ kiss ’ll pay me back, an’ mo’,
  Dough lone de way, my dearie.
 
De night is skeery-lak an’ still—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
’Cept fu’ dat mou’nful whippo’will—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
De way so long wif dis slow pace,
’T’u’d seem to me lak savin’ grace
Ef you was on a nearer place,
  Fu’ lone de way, my dearie.
 
I hyeah de hootin’ of de owl—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
I wish dat watch-dog would n’t howl—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
An’ evaht’ing bofe right an’ lef’,
Seem p’int’tly lak hit put itse’f
In shape to skeer me half to def—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
 
I whistles so ’s I won’t be feared—
  Oh, lone de way, my dearie!
But anyhow I ’s kin’o’ skeered,
  Fu’ lone de way, my dearie.
De sky been lookin’ mighty glum,
But you kin mek hit lighten some,
Ef you ’ll jes’ say you ’s glad I come,
  Dough lone de way, my dearie.
 
 
Retort
 
 
“THOU art a fool,” said my head to my heart,
“Indeed, the greatest of fools thou art,
  To be led astray by the trick of a tress,
By a smiling face or a ribbon smart;”
  And my heart was in sore distress.
 
Then Phyllis came by, and her face was fair,
The light gleamed soft on her raven hair;
  And her lips were blooming a rosy red.
Then my heart spoke out with a right bold air:
  “Thou art worse than a fool, O head!”
 
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