Treasure Island

Lola Ridge

(December 12, 1873- May 19, 1941 / Dublin)

Lullaby


Rock-a-by baby, woolly and brown…
(There's a shout at the door an' a big red light…)
Lil' coon baby, mammy is down…
Han's that hold yuh are steady an' white…

Look piccaninny - such a gran' blaze
Lickin' up the roof an' the sticks of home -
Ever see the like in all yo' days!
- Cain't yuh sleep, mah bit-of-honey-comb?

Rock-a-by baby, up to the sky!
Look at the cherries driftin' by -
Bright red cherries spilled on the groun' -
Piping-hot cherries at nuthin' a poun'!

Hush, mah lil' black-bug - doan yuh weep.
Daddy's run away an' mammy's in a heap
By her own fron' door in the blazin' heat
Outah the shacks like warts on the street…

An' the singin' flame an' the gleeful crowd
Circlin' aroun'… won't mammy be proud!
With a stone at her hade an' a stone on her heart,
An' her mouth like a red plum, broken apart…

See where the blue an' khaki prance,
Adding brave colors to the dance
About the big bonfire white folks make -
Such gran' doin's fo' a lil' coon's sake!

Hear all the eagah feet runnin' in town -
See all the willin' han's reach outah night -
Han's that are wonderful, steady an' white!
To toss up a lil' babe, blinkin' an' brown…

Rock-a-by baby - higher an' higher!
Mammy is sleepin' an' daddy's run lame…
(Soun' may yuh sleep in yo' cradle o' fire!)
Rock-a-by baby, hushed in the flame…

(An incident of the East St. Louis Race Riots, when some white women flung
a living colored baby into the heart of a blazing fire.)

Submitted: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Edited: Wednesday, February 08, 2012

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