The Poetry Corner


By Paul Laurence Dunbar

When de fiddle gits to singin' out a ol' Vahginny reel, An' you 'mence to feel a ticklin' in yo' toe an' in yo' heel; Ef you t'ink you got 'uligion an' you wants to keep it, too, You jes' bettah tek a hint an' git yo'self clean out o' view. Case de time is mighty temptin' when de chune is in de swing, Fu' a darky, saint or sinner man, to cut de pigeon-wing. An' you could n't he'p f'om dancin' ef yo' feet was boun' wif twine, When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' down de line. Don't you know Miss Angelina? She 's de da'lin' of de place. W'y, dey ain't no high-toned lady wif sich mannahs an' sich grace. She kin move across de cabin, wif its planks all rough an' wo'; Jes' de same 's ef she was dancin' on ol' mistus' ball-room flo'. Fact is, you do' see no cabin--evaht'ing you see look grand, An' dat one ol' squeaky fiddle soun' to you jes' lak a ban'; Cotton britches look lak broadclof an' a linsey dress look fine, When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' down de line. Some folks say dat dancin 's sinful, an' de blessed Lawd, dey say, Gwine to punish us fu' steppin' w'en we hyeah de music play. But I tell you I don' b'lieve it, fu' de Lawd is wise and good, An' he made de banjo's metal an' he made de fiddle's wood, An' he made de music in dem, so I don' quite t'ink he 'll keer Ef our feet keeps time a little to de melodies we hyeah. W'y, dey's somep'n' downright holy in de way our faces shine, When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' down de line. Angelina steps so gentle, Angelina bows so low, An' she lif huh sku't so dainty dat huh shoetop skacely show: An' dem teef o' huh'n a-shinin', ez she tek you by de han'-- Go 'way, people, d' ain't anothah sich a lady in de lan'! When she 's movin' thoo de figgers er a-dancin' by huhse'f, Folks jes' stan' stock-still a-sta'in', an' dey mos' nigh hol's dey bref; An' de young mens, dey 's a-sayin', "I 's gwine mek dat damsel mine," When Angelina Johnson comes a-swingin' down de line.