The Book of American Negro Poetry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about The Book of American Negro Poetry.

The white man rides in a palace car,
  And the Negro rides “Jim Crow.” 
To damn the other with bolt and bar,
  One creepeth so low; so low! 
And it’s, oh, for a master’s nose in the mire,
  While the humbled hearts o’erflow! 
Well I know whose soul grows big at this,
  And whose grows small; I know!

The white man leases out his land,
  And the Negro tills the same. 
One works; one loafs and takes command;
  But I know who wins the game! 
And it’s, oh, for the white man’s shrinking soil,
  As the black’s rich acres grow! 
Well I know how the signs point out at last,
  I know; ah, well I know!

The white man votes for his color’s sake,
  While the black, for his is barred;
(Though “ignorance” is the charge they make),
  But the black man studies hard. 
And it’s, oh, for the white man’s sad neglect,
  For the power of his light let go! 
So, I know which man must win at last,
  I know!  Ah, Friend, I know!


Dey was hard times jes fo’ Christmas round our neighborhood one year;
So we held a secret meetin’, whah de white folks couldn’t hear,
To ‘scuss de situation, an’ to see what could be done
Towa’d a fust-class Christmas dinneh an’ a little Christmas fun.

Rufus Green, who called de meetin’, ris an’ said:  “In dis here town, An’ throughout de land, de white folks is a-tryin’ to keep us down.”  S’ ’e:  “Dey’s bought us, sold us, beat us; now dey ’buse us ’ca’se we’s free; But when dey tetch my stomach, dey’s done gone too fur foh me!

“Is I right?” “You sho is, Rufus!” roared a dozen hungry throats. 
“Ef you’d keep a mule a-wo’kin’, don’t you tamper wid his oats. 
Dat’s sense,” continued Rufus.  “But dese white folks nowadays
Has done got so close and stingy you can’t live on what dey pays.

“Here ‘tis Christmas-time, an’, folkses, I’s indignant ’nough to choke. 
Whah’s our Christmas dinneh comin’ when we’s ‘mos’ completely broke? 
I can’t hahdly ‘fo’d a toothpick an’ a glass o’ water.  Mad? 
Say, I’m desp’ret!  Dey jes better treat me nice, dese white folks had!”

Well, dey ’bused de white folks scan’lous, till old Pappy Simmons ris,
Leanin’ on his cane to s’pote him, on account his rheumatis’,
An’ s’ ‘e:  “Chilun, whut’s dat wintry wind a-sighin’ th’ough de street
‘Bout yo’ wasted summeh wages?  But, no matter, we mus’ eat.

“Now, I seed a beau’ful tuhkey on a certain gemmun’s fahm. 
He’s a-growin’ fat an’ sassy, an’ a-struttin’ to a chahm. 
Chickens, sheeps, hogs, sweet pertaters—­all de craps is fine dis year;
All we needs is a committee foh to tote de goodies here.”

Well, we lit right in an’ voted dat it was a gran idee,
An’ de dinneh we had Christmas was worth trabblin’ miles to see;
An’ we eat a full an’ plenty, big an’ little, great an’ small,
Not beca’se we was dishonest, but indignant, sah.  Dat’s all.

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The Book of American Negro Poetry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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