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Paul laurence dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
6

Air a—gittin’ cool an’ coolah,
Frost a—comin’ in de night,
Hicka’ nuts an’ wa’nuts fallin’,
Possum keepin’ out o’ sight.
Tu’key struttin’ in de ba’nya’d,
Nary a step so proud ez his;
Keep on struttin’, Mistah Tu’key,
Yo’ do’ know whut time it is.
Cidah press commence a—squeakin’
Eatin’ apples sto’ed away,
Chillun swa’min’ 'roun’ lak ho’nets,
Huntin’ aigs ermung de hay.
Mistah Tu’key keep on gobblin’
At de geese a—flyin’ souf,
Oomph! dat bird do’ know whut’s comin’;
Ef he did he’d shet his mouf.
Pumpkin gittin’ good an’ yallah
Mek me open up my eyes;
Seems lak it’s a—lookin’ at me
Jes’ a—la’in’ dah sayin’ “Pies.”
Tu’key gobbler gwine 'roun’ blowin’,
Gwine 'roun’ gibbin’ sass an’ slack;
Keep on talkin’, Mistah Tu’key,
You ain’t seed no almanac.
Fa’mer walkin’ th’oo de ba’nya’d
Seein’ how things is comin’ on,
Sees ef all de fowls is fatt’nin’ —
Good times comin’ sho’s you bo’n.
Hyeahs dat tu’key gobbler braggin’,
Den his face break in a smile —
Nebbah min’, you sassy rascal,
He’s gwine nab you atter while.
Choppin’ suet in de kitchen,
Stonin’ raisins in de hall,
Beef a—cookin’ fu’ de mince meat,
Spices groun’ —I smell 'em all.
Look hyeah, Tu’key, stop dat gobblin’,
You ain’ luned de sense ob feah,
You ol’ fool, yo’ naik’s in dangah,
Do’ you know Thanksgibbin’s hyeah?

IN de dead of night I sometimes,
Git to t’inkin’ of de pas’
An’ de days w’en slavery helt me
In my mis’ry —ha’d an’ fas’.
Dough de time was mighty tryin’,
In dese houahs somehow hit seem
Dat a brightah light come slippin’
Thoo de kivahs of my dream.
An’ my min’ fu’gits de whuppins
Draps de feah o’ block an’ lash
An’ flies straight to somep’n’ joyful
In a secon’s lightnin’ flash.
Den hit seems I see a vision
Of a dearah long ago
Of de childern tumblin’ roun’ me
By my rough ol’ cabin do’.
Talk about yo’ go’geous mansions
An’ yo’ big house great an’ gran’,
Des bring up de fines’ palace
Dat you know in all de lan’.
But dey’s somep’n’ dearah to me,
Somep’n’ faihah to my eyes
In dat cabin, less you bring me
To yo’ mansion in de skies.
I kin see de light a—shinin’
Thoo de chinks atween de logs,
I kin hyeah de way—off bayin’
Of my mastah’s huntin’ dogs,
An’ de neighin’ of de hosses
Stampin’ on de ol’ bahn flo’,
But above dese soun’s de laughin’
At my deah ol’ cabin do’.
We would gethah daih at evenin’,
All my frien’s 'ud come erroun’
An’ hit wan’t no time, twell, bless you,
You could hyeah de banjo’s soun’.
You could see de dahkies dancin’
Pigeon wing an’ heel an’ toe, —
Joyous times I tell you people
Roun’ dat same ol’ cabin do’.
But at times my t’oughts gits saddah,
Ez I riccolec’ de folks,
An’ dey frolickin’ an’ talkin’
Wid dey laughin’ an’ dey jokes.
An’ hit hu’ts me w’en I membahs
Dat I’ll nevah see no mo’
Dem ah faces gethered smilin’
Roun’ dat po’ ol’ cabin do’.

Belated wanderer of the ways of spring,
Lost in the chill of grim November rain,
Would I could read the message that you bring
And find in it the antidote for pain.

Does some sad spirit out beyond the day,
Far looking to the hours forever dead,
Send you a tender offering to lay
Upon the grave of us, the living dead?

Or does some brighter spirit, unforlorn,
Send you, my little sister of the wood,
To say to some one on a cloudful morn,
‘Life lives through death, my brother, all is good?’

With meditative hearts the others go
The memory of their dead to dress anew.
But, sister mine, bide here that I may know,
Life grows, through death, as beautiful as you.

Wen I git up in de mo’nin’ an’ de clouds is big an’ black,
Dey’s a kin’ o’ wa’nin’ shivah goes a—scootin’ down my back;
Den I says to my ol’ ooman ez I watches down de lane,
'Don’t you so’t o’ reckon, Lizy, dat we gwine to have some rain?'

‘Go on, man,’ my Lizy answah, 'you cain’t fool me, not a bit,
I don’t see no rain a—comin’, ef you’s wishin’ fu’ it, quit;
Case de mo’ you t’ink erbout it, an de mo’ you pray an’ wish,
W’y de rain stay ‘way de longah, spechul ef you wants to fish.’

But I see huh pat de skillet, an’ I see huh cas’ huh eye
Wid a kin’ o’ anxious motion to’ds de da’kness in de sky;
An’ I knows whut she 's a—t’inkin’, dough she tries so ha’d to hide.
She 's a—sayin’, 'Would n’t catfish now tas’e monst’ous bully, fried?'

Den de clouds git black an’ blackah, an’ de thundah 'mence to roll,
An’ de rain, it 'mence a—fallin’. Oh, I’s happy, bless my soul!
Ez I look at dat ol’ skillet, an’ I 'magine I kin see
Jes’ a slew o’ new—ketched catfish sizzlin’ daih fu’ huh an’ me.

'T ain’t no use to go a—ploughin’, fu’ de groun’ 'll be too wet,
So I puts out fu’ de big house at a moughty pace, you bet,
An’ ol’ mastah say, 'Well, Lishy, ef you t’ink hit 's gwine to rain,
Go on fishin’, hit 's de weathah, an’ I 'low we cain’t complain.'

Talk erbout a dahky walkin’ wid his haid up in de aih!
Have to feel mine evah minute to be sho’ I got it daih;
En’ de win’ is cuttin’ capahs an’ a—lashin’ thoo de trees,
But de rain keeps on a—singin’ blessed songs, lak 'Tek yo’ ease.'

Wid my pole erpon my shouldah an’ my wo’m can in my han’,
I kin feel de fish a—waitin’ w’en I strikes de rivah’s san’;
Nevah min’, you ho’ny scoun’els, need n’ swim erroun’ an’ grin,
I 'll be grinnin’ in a minute w’en I 'mence to haul you in.

W’en de fish begin to nibble, an’ de co’k begin to jump,
I ‘s erfeahed dat dey ’ll quit bitin’, case dey hyeah my hea’t go ‘thump,’
'Twell de co’k go way down undah, an’ I raise a awful shout,
Ez a big ol’ yallah belly comes a gallivantin’ out.

Need n’t wriggle, Mistah Catfish, case I got you jes’ de same,
You been eatin’, I 'll be eatin’, an’ we needah ain’t to blame.
But you need n’t feel so lonesome fu’ I 's th’owin’ out to see
Ef dey ain’t some of yo’ comrades fu’ to keep you company.

Spo’t, dis fishin’! now you talkin’, w’y dey ain’t no kin’ to beat;
I don’ keer ef I is soakin’, laigs, an’ back, an’ naik, an’ feet,
It 's de spo’t I 's lookin’ aftah. Hit 's de pleasure an’ de fun,
Dough I knows dat Lizy 's waitin’ wid de skillet w’en I’s done.

My lady love lives far away,
And oh my heart is sad by day,
And ah my tears fall fast by night,
What may I do in such a plight.

Why, miles grow few when love is fleet,
And love, you know, hath flying feet;
Break off thy sighs and witness this,
How poor a thing mere distance is.

My love knows not I love her so,
And would she scorn me, did she know?
How may the tale I would impart
Attract her ear and storm her heart?

Calm thou the tempest in my breast,
Who loves in silence loves the best,
But bide thy time, she will awake,
No night so dark but morn will break.

But though my heart so strongly yearn,
My lady loves me not in turn,
How may I win the blest reply
That my void heart shall satisfy.

Love breedeth love, be thou but true,
And soon thy love shall love thee, too;
If Fate hath meant you heart for heart,
There’s naught may keep you twain apart.

Lucy done gone back on me,
Dat’s de way wif life.
Evaht’ing was movin’ free,
T’ought I had my wife.
Den some dahky comes along,
Sings my gal a little song,
Since den, evaht’ing’s gone wrong,
Evah day dey 's strife.

Did n’t answeh me to—day,
Wen I called huh name,
Would you t’ink she 'd ac’ dat way
Wen I ain’t to blame?
Dat 's de way dese women do,
Wen dey fin’s a fellow true,
Den dey 'buse him thoo an’ thoo;
Well, hit 's all de same.

Somep’n’s wrong erbout my lung,
An’ I ‘s glad hit ’s so.
Doctah says ‘at I ’ll die young,
Well, I wants to go!
Whut 's de use o’ livin’ hyeah,
Wen de gal you loves so deah,
Goes back on you clean an’ cleah—
I sh’d like to know?

Hyeah dat singin’ in de medders
Whaih de folks is mekin’ hay?
Wo’k is pretty middlin’ heavy
Fu’ a man to be so gay.
You kin tell dey 's somep’n special
F’om de canter o’ de song;
Somep’n sholy pleasin’ Sam’l,
W’en he singin’ all day long.

Hyeahd him wa’blin’ 'way dis mo’nin’
'Fo’ 't was light enough to see.
Seem lak music in de evenin’
Allus good enough fu’ me.
But dat man commenced to hollah
'Fo’ he 'd even washed his face;
Would you b’lieve, de scan’lous rascal
Woke de birds erroun’ de place?

Sam’l took a trip a—Sad’day;
Dressed hisse’f in all he had,
Tuk a cane an’ went a—strollin’,
Lookin’ mighty pleased an’ glad.
Some folks don’ know whut de mattah,
But I do, you bet yo’ life;
Sam’l smilin’ an’ a—singin’
'Case he been to see his wife.

She live on de fu’ plantation,
Twenty miles erway er so;
But huh man is mighty happy
Wen he git de chanst to go.
Walkin’ allus ain’ de nices’—
Mo’nin’ fin’s him on de way—
But he allus comes back smilin’,
Lak his pleasure was his pay.

Den he do a heap o’ talkin’,
Do’ he mos’ly kin’ o’ still,
But de wo’ds, dey gits to runnin’
Lak de watah fu’ a mill.
‘Whut ’s de use o’ havin’ trouble,
Whut 's de use o’ havin’ strife?'
Dat 's de way dis Sam’l preaches
W’en he been to see his wife.

An’ I reckon I git jealous,
Fu’ I laff an’ joke an’ sco’n,
An’ I say, 'Oh, go on, Sam’l,
Des go on, an’ blow yo’ ho’n.'
But I know dis comin’ Sad’day,
Dey 'll be brighter days in life;
An’ I 'll be ez glad ez Sam’l
W’en I go to see my wife.

How shall I woo thee to win thee, mine own?
Say in what tongue shall I tell of my love.
I who was fearless so timid have grown,
All that was eagle has turned into dove.
The path from the meadow that leads to the bars
Is more to me now than the path of the stars.

How shall I woo thee to win thee, mine own,
Thou who art fair and as far as the moon?
Had I the strength of the torrent’s wild tone,
Had I the sweetness of warblers in June;
The strength and the sweetness might charm and persuade,
But neither have I my petition to aid.

How shall I woo thee to win thee, mine own?
How shall I traverse the distance between
My humble cot and your glorious throne?
How shall a clown gain the ear of a queen?
Oh teach me the tongue that shall please thee the best,
For till I have won thee my heart may not rest.

With what thou gavest me, O Master,
I have wrought.
Such chances, such abilities,
To see the end was not for my poor eyes,
Thine was the impulse, thine the forming thought.

Ah, I have wrought,
And these sad hands have right to tell their story,
It was no hard up striving after glory,
Catching and losing, gaining and failing,
Raging me back at the world’s raucous railing.
Simply and humbly from stone and from wood,
Wrought I the things that to thee might seem good.

If they are little, ah God! but the cost,
Who but thou knowest the all that is lost!
If they are few, is the workmanship true?
Try them and weigh me, whate’er be my due!

Ah, yes, the chapter ends to—day;
We even lay the book away;
But oh, how sweet the moments sped
Before the final page was read!

We tried to read between the lines
The Author’s deep—concealed designs;
But scant reward such search secures;
You saw my heart and I saw yours.

The Master,—He who penned the page
And bade us read it,—He is sage:
And what he orders, you and I
Can but obey, nor question why.

We read together and forgot
The world about us. Time was not.
Unheeded and unfelt, it fled.
We read and hardly knew we read.

Until beneath a sadder sun,
We came to know the book was done.
Then, as our minds were but new lit,
It dawned upon us what was writ;

And we were startled. In our eyes,
Looked forth the light of great surprise.
Then as a deep—toned tocsin tolls,
A voice spoke forth: ‘Behold your souls!’

I do, I do. I cannot look
Into your eyes: so close the book.
But brought it grief or brought it bliss,
No other page shall read like this!

Search thou my heart;
If there be guile,
It shall depart
Before thy smile.

Search thou my soul;
Be there deceit,
'T will vanish whole
Before thee, sweet.

Upon my mind
Turn thy pure lens;
Naught shalt thou find
Thou canst not cleanse.

If I should pray,
I scarcely know
In just what way
My prayers would go.

So strong in me
I feel love’s leaven,
I 'd bow to thee
As soon as Heaven!

HAIN’T you see my Mandy Lou,
Is it true?
Whaih you been f’om day to day,
Whaih, I say?
Dat you say you nevah seen
Dis hyeah queen
Walkin’ roun’ f’om fiel’ to street
Smilin’ sweet?
Slendah ez a saplin’ tree;
Seems to me
W’en de win’ blow f’om de bay
She jes’ sway
Lak de reg’lar saplin’ do
Ef hit’s grew
Straight an’ graceful, 'dout a limb,
Sweet an’ slim.
Browner den de frush’s wing,
An’ she sing
Lak he mek his wa’ble ring
In de spring;
But she sholy beat de frush,
Hyeah me, hush:
W’en she sing, huh teef kin show
White ez snow.
Eyes ez big an’ roun’ an’ bright
Ez de light
Whut de moon gives in de prime
Harvest time.
An’ huh haih a woolly skein,
Black an’ plain,
Hol’s you wid a natchul twis’
Close to bliss.
Tendah han’s dat mek yo’ own
Feel lak stone;
Easy steppin’, blessid feet,
Small an’ sweet.
Hain’t you seen my Mandy Lou,
Is it true?
Look at huh befo’ she’s gone,
Den pass on!