A GREAT swart cheek and the gleam of tears, The flutter of hopes and the shadow of fears, And all day long the rub and scrub With only a breath betwixt tub and tub. Fool! Thou hast toiled for fifty years And what hast thou now but thy dusty tears? In silence she rubbed … But her face I had seen, Where the light of her soul fell shining and clean.
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Wherefore this busy labor without rest? Is it an idle dream to which we cling, Here where a thousand dusky toilers sing Unto the world their hope? “Build we our best. By hand and thought,” they cry, “although unblessed.” So the great engines throb, and anvils ring, And so the thought is wedded to the thing; But what shall be the end, and what the test? Dear God, we dare not answer, we can see Not many steps ahead, but this we know— If all our toilsome building is in vain, Availing not to set our manhood free, If envious hate roots out the seed we sow, The South will wear eternally a stain.
Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes, Come to yo’ pappy an’ set on his knee. What you been doin’, suh—makin’ san’ pies? Look at dat bib—You’s ez du’ty ez me. Look at dat mouf—dat’s merlasses, I bet; Come hyeah, Maria, an’ wipe off his han’s. Bees gwine to ketch you an’ eat you up yit, Bein’ so sticky an’ sweet—goodness lan’s!
Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes Who’s pappy’s darlin’ an’ who’s pappy’s chile? Who is it all de day nevah once tries Fu’ to be cross, er once loses dat smile? Whah did you git dem teef? My, you’s a scamp! Whah did dat dimple come f’om in yo’ chin? Pappy do’ know you—I b’lieves you’s a tramp; Mammy, dis hyeah’s some ol’ straggler got in!
Let’s th’ow him outen de do’ in de san’, We do’ want stragglers a-layin’ ‘roun’ hyeah; Let’s gin him ‘way to de big buggah-man; I know he’s hidin’ erroun’ hyeah right neah. Buggah-man, buggah-man, come in de do’, Hyeah’s a bad boy you kin have fu’ to eat. Mammy an’ pappy do’ want him no mo’, Swaller him down f’om his haid to his feet!
Dah, now, I t’ought dat you’d hug me up close. Go back, ol’ buggah, you sha’n’t have dis boy. He ain’t no tramp, ner no straggler, of co’se; He’s pappy’s pa’dner an’ playmate an’ joy. Come to you’ pallet now—go to you’ res’; Wisht you could allus know ease an’ cleah skies; Wisht you could stay jes’ a chile on my breas’— Little brown baby wif spa’klin’ eyes!