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Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

How Lucy Backslid


De times is mighty stirrin' 'mong de people up ouah way,
Dey 'sputin' an' dey argyin' an' fussin' night an' day;
An' all dis monst'ous trouble dat hit meks me tiahed to tell
Is 'bout dat Lucy Jackson dat was sich a mighty belle.

She was de preachah's favoured, an' he tol' de chu'ch one night
Dat she travelled thoo de cloud o' sin a-bearin' of a light;
But, now, I 'low he t'inkin' dat she mus' 'a' los' huh lamp,
Case Lucy done backslided an' dey trouble in de camp.

Huh daddy wants to beat huh, but huh mammy daihs him to,
Fu' she lookin' at de question f'om a ooman's pint o' view;
An' she say dat now she would n't have it diff'ent ef she could;
Dat huh darter only acted jes' lak any othah would.

Cose you know w'en women argy, dey is mighty easy led
By dey hea'ts an' don't go foolin' 'bout de reasons of de haid.
So huh mammy laid de law down (she ain' reckernizin' wrong),
But you got to mek erlowance fu' de cause dat go along.

Now de cause dat made Miss Lucy fu' to th'ow huh grace away
I 's afeard won't baih no 'spection w'en hit come to jedgement day;
Do' de same t'ing been a-wo'kin' evah sence de worl' began,--
De ooman disobeyin' fu' to 'tice along a man.

Ef you 'tended de revivals which we held de wintah pas',
You kin rickolec' dat convuts was a-comin' thick an' fas';
But dey ain't no use in talkin', dey was all lef' in de lu'ch
W'en ol' Mis' Jackson's dartah foun' huh peace an' tuk de chu'ch.

W'y, she shouted ovah evah inch of Ebenezah's flo';
Up into de preachah's pulpit an' f'om dah down to de do';
Den she hugged an' squeezed huh mammy, an' she hugged an' kissed

huh dad,
An' she struck out at huh sistah, people said, lak she was mad.

I has 'tended some revivals dat was lively in my day,
An' I 's seed folks git 'uligion in mos' evah kin' o' way;
But I tell you, an' you b'lieve me dat I 's speakin' true indeed,
Dat gal tuk huh 'ligion ha'dah dan de ha'dest yit I 's seed.

Well, f'om dat, 't was 'Sistah Jackson, won't you please do dis er dat?'
She mus' allus sta't de singin' w'en dey 'd pass erroun' de hat,
An' hit seemed dey was n't nuffin' in dat chu'ch dat could go by
'Dout sistah Lucy Jackson had a finger in de pie.

But de sayin' mighty trufeful dat hit easiah to sail
W'en de sea is ca'm an' gentle dan to weathah out a gale.
Dat 's whut made dis ooman's trouble; ef de sto'm had kep' away,
She 'd 'a' had enough 'uligion fu' to lasted out huh day.

Lucy went wid 'Lishy Davis, but w'en she jined chu'ch, you know
Dah was lots o' little places dat, of cose, she could n't go;
An' she had to gin up dancin' an' huh singin' an' huh play.--
Now hit's nachul dat sich goin's-on 'u'd drive a man away.

So, w'en Lucy got so solemn, Ike he sta'ted fu' to go
Wid a gal who was a sinnah an' could mek a bettah show.
Lucy jes' went on to meetin' lak she did n't keer a rap,
But my 'sperunce kep' me t'inkin dah was somep'n' gwine to drap.

Fu' a gal won't let 'uligion er no othah so't o' t'ing
Stop huh w'en she teks a notion dat she wants a weddin' ring.
You kin p'omise huh de blessin's of a happy aftah life
(An' hit's nice to be a angel), but she 'd ravah be a wife.

So w'en Chrismus come an' mastah gin a frolic on de lawn,
Did n't 'sprise me not de littlest seein' Lucy lookin' on.
An' I seed a wa'nin' lightnin' go a-flashin' f'om huh eye
Jest ez 'Lishy an' his new gal went a-gallivantin' by.

An' dat Tildy, umph! she giggled, an' she gin huh dress a flirt
Lak de people she was passin' was ez common ez de dirt;
An' de minit she was dancin', w'y dat gal put on mo' aihs
Dan a cat a-tekin' kittens up a paih o' windin' staihs.

She could 'fo'd to show huh sma'tness, fu' she could n't he'p but know
Dat wid jes' de present dancahs she was ownah of de flo';
But I t'ink she 'd kin' o' cooled down ef she happened on de sly
Fu' to noticed dat 'ere lightnin' dat I seed in Lucy's eye.

An' she would n't been so 'stonished w'en de people gin a shout,
An' Lucy th'owed huh mantle back an' come a-glidin' out.
Some ahms was dah to tek huh an' she fluttahed down de flo'
Lak a feddah f'om a bedtick w'en de win' commence to blow.

Soon ez Tildy see de trouble, she jes' tu'n an' toss huh haid,
But seem lak she los' huh sperrit, all huh darin'ness was daid.
Did n't cut anothah capah nary time de blessid night;
But de othah one, hit looked lak could n't git enough delight.

W'en you keeps a colt a-stan'nin' in de stable all along,
W'en he do git out hit 's nachul he 'll be pullin' mighty strong.
Ef you will tie up yo' feelin's, hyeah 's de bes' advice to tek,
Look out fu' an awful loosin' w'en de string dat hol's 'em brek.

Lucy's mammy groaned to see huh, an' huh pappy sto'med an' to',
But she kep' right on a-hol'in' to de centah of de flo'.
So dey went an' ast de pastoh ef he could n't mek huh quit,
But de tellin' of de sto'y th'owed de preachah in a fit.

Tildy Taylor chewed huh hank'cher twell she 'd chewed it in a hole,--
All de sinnahs was rejoicin' 'cause a lamb had lef de fol',
An' de las' I seed o' Lucy, she an' 'Lish was side an' side:
I don't blame de gal fu' dancin', an' I could n't ef I tried.

Fu' de men dat wants to ma'y ain't a-growin' 'roun' on trees,
An' de gal dat wants to git one sholy has to try to please.
Hit's a ha'd t'ing fu' a ooman fu 'to pray an' jes' set down,
An' to sacafice a husban' so 's to try to gain a crown.

Now, I don' say she was justified in follerin' huh plan;
But aldough she los' huh 'ligion, yit she sholy got de man.
Latah on, w'en she is suttain dat de preachah 's made 'em fas'
She kin jes' go back to chu'ch an' ax fu'giveness fu' de pas'!

Submitted: Friday, April 02, 2010

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