The Poetry Corner

A Banjo Song

By Paul Laurence Dunbar

Oh, dere 's lots o' keer an' trouble In dis world to swaller down; An' ol' Sorrer 's purty lively In her way o' gittin' roun'. Yet dere's times when I furgit em,-- Aches an' pains an' troubles all,-- An' it's when I tek at ebenin' My ol' banjo f'om de wall. 'Bout de time dat night is fallin' An' my daily wu'k is done, An' above de shady hilltops I kin see de settin' sun; When de quiet, restful shadders Is beginnin' jes' to fall,-- Den I take de little banjo F'om its place upon de wall. Den my fam'ly gadders roun' me In de fadin' o' de light, Ez I strike de strings to try 'em Ef dey all is tuned er-right. An' it seems we 're so nigh heaben We kin hyeah de angels sing When de music o' dat banjo Sets my cabin all er-ring. An' my wife an' all de othahs,-- Male an' female, small an' big,-- Even up to gray-haired granny, Seem jes' boun' to do a jig; 'Twell I change de style o' music, Change de movement an' de time, An' de ringin' little banjo Plays an ol' hea't-feelin' hime. An' somehow my th'oat gits choky, An' a lump keeps tryin' to rise Lak it wan'ed to ketch de water Dat was flowin' to my eyes; An' I feel dat I could sorter Knock de socks clean off o' sin Ez I hyeah my po' ol' granny Wif huh tremblin' voice jine in. Den we all th'ow in our voices Fu' to he'p de chune out too, Lak a big camp-meetin' choiry Tryin' to sing a mou'nah th'oo. An' our th'oahts let out de music, Sweet an' solemn, loud an' free, 'Twell de raftahs o' my cabin Echo wif de melody. Oh, de music o' de banjo, Quick an' deb'lish, solemn, slow, Is de greates' joy an' solace Dat a weary slave kin know! So jes' let me hyeah it ringin', Dough de chune be po' an' rough, It's a pleasure; an' de pleasures O' dis life is few enough. Now, de blessed little angels Up in heaben, we are told, Don't do nothin' all dere lifetime 'Ceptin' play on ha'ps o' gold. Now I think heaben 'd be mo' homelike Ef we 'd hyeah some music fall F'om a real ol'-fashioned banjo, Like dat one upon de wall.