Throw the children into the river; civilization has given us too many. It is better to die than it is to grow up and find out that you are colored.
Pluck the stars out of the heavens. The stars mark our destiny. The stars marked my destiny.
I am tired of civilization.
THE BANJO PLAYER
There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.
I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing
my songs of the cabin and the field. At the
Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome as the violets
in March; there is always food and drink for me
there, and the dimes of those who love honest music.
Behind the railroad tracks the little children clap
their hands and love me as they love Kris Kringle.
But I fear that I am a failure. Last night a woman called me a troubadour. What is a troubadour?
THE SCARLET WOMAN
Once I was good like the Virgin Mary and the Minister’s wife.
My father worked for Mr. Pullman and white people’s tips; but he died two days after his insurance expired.
I had nothing, so I had to go to work.
All the stock I had was a white girl’s education and a face that enchanted the men of both races.
Starvation danced with me.
So when Big Lizzie, who kept a house for white men, came to me with tales of fortune that I could reap from the sale of my virtue I bowed my head to Vice.
Now I can drink more gin than any man for miles around.
Gin is better than all the water in Lethe.
R. Nathaniel Dett
THE RUBINSTEIN STACCATO ETUDE
In and out does the melody twist—
Is this composition.
(Alas! for the player who hasn’t the wrist!)
Now in the dominant
Theme ringing prominent,
Bass still repeating its one monotone,
Double notes crying,
Up keyboard go flying,
The change to the minor comes in like a groan.
Without a cessation
A chaste modulation
Hastens adown to subdominant key,
Where melody mellow-like
Singing so ’cello-like
Rises and falls in a wild ecstasy.
Scarce is this finished
When chords all diminished
Break loose in a patter that comes down like rain,
A pedal-point wonder
Now all is mad agitation again.
Like laughter jolly
Begins the finale;
Again does the ’cello its tones seem to lend
Diminuendo ad molto crescendo.
Ah! Rubinstein only could make such an end!
Georgia Douglas Johnson
THE HEART OF A WOMAN
The heart of a woman goes forth with the dawn,
As a lone bird, soft winging, so restlessly on,
Afar o’er life’s turrets and vales does it roam
In the wake of those echoes the heart calls home.