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(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

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When Malindy Sings

G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy--
Put dat music book away;
What's de use to keep on tryin'?
Ef you practise twell you're gray,
You cain't sta't no notes a-flyin'
Lak de ones dat rants and rings
F'om de kitchen to de big woods
When Malindy sings.

You ain't got de nachel o'gans
Fu' to make de soun' come right,
You ain't got de tu'ns an' twistin's
Fu' to make it sweet an' light.
Tell you one thing now, Miss Lucy,
An' I 'm tellin' you fu' true,
When hit comes to raal right singin',
'T ain't no easy thing to do.

Easy 'nough fu' folks to hollah,
Lookin' at de lines an' dots,
When dey ain't no one kin sence it,
An' de chune comes in, in spots;
But fu' real malojous music,
Dat jes' strikes yo' hea't and clings,
Jes' you stan' an' listen wif me
When Malindy sings.

Ain't you nevah hyeahd Malindy?
Blessed soul, tek up de cross!
Look hyeah, ain't you jokin', honey?
Well, you don't know whut you los'.
Y' ought to hyeah dat gal a-wa'blin',
Robins, la'ks, an' all dem things,
Heish dey moufs an' hides dey face.
When Malindy sings.

Fiddlin' man jes' stop his fiddlin',
Lay his fiddle on de she'f;
Mockin'-bird quit tryin' to whistle,
'Cause he jes' so shamed hisse'f.
Folks a-playin' on de banjo
Draps dey fingahs on de strings--
Bless yo' soul--fu'gits to move 'em,
When Malindy sings.

She jes' spreads huh mouf and hollahs,
"Come to Jesus," twell you hyeah
Sinnahs' tremblin' steps and voices,
Timid-lak a-drawin' neah;
Den she tu'ns to "Rock of Ages,"
Simply to de cross she clings,
An' you fin' yo' teahs a-drappin'
When Malindy sings.

Who dat says dat humble praises
Wif de Master nevah counts?
Heish yo' mouf, I hyeah dat music,
Ez hit rises up an' mounts--
Floatin' by de hills an' valleys,
Way above dis buryin' sod,
Ez hit makes its way in glory
To de very gates of God!

Oh, hit's sweetah dan de music
Of an edicated band;
An' hit's dearah dan de battle's
Song o' triumph in de lan'.
It seems holier dan evenin'
When de solemn chu'ch bell rings,
Ez I sit an' ca'mly listen
While Malindy sings.

Towsah, stop dat ba'kin', hyeah me!
Mandy, mek dat chile keep still;
Don't you hyeah de echoes callin'
F'om de valley to de hill?
Let me listen, I can hyeah it,
Th'oo de bresh of angel's wings,
Sof' an' sweet, "Swing Low,
Sweet Chariot,"
Ez Malindy sings.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003


Read poems about / on: music, angel, song, light, rose

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Comments about this poem (A Drowsy Day by Paul Laurence Dunbar )

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  • Valerie Crumble (1/31/2010 12:21:00 AM)

    I also remember my mother reciting this poem with such expression and using
    the broken language correctly. My mother was from Acamac County Virginia
    and her school encouraged students to memorize and recite for (at that time) ,
    Negro History Week Programs. She also could recite the with 'Jump, Back Honey, Jump Back.

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  • Valerie Crumble (1/31/2010 12:16:00 AM)

    I also remember my mother reciting this poem with such expression and using
    the broken language correctly. My mother was from Acamac County Virginia
    and her school encouraged students to memorize and recite for (at that time) ,
    Negro History Week Programs. She also could recite the with 'Jump, Back Honey, Jump Back.

  • Kiarra Smith (2/13/2009 10:06:00 PM)

    I used to know this poem by memory. This is, of course, one of Dunbar's dialect poems. If one were to go very deeply in analizing this poem, they would come up with a countless amount of interpretations. It shows the natural talent bestowed upon certain people, regardless of class, gennder, age, or race. The Miss Lucy character, most likely one placed in a higher status due to her race does not have the natural ability to sing as Malindy does. Though, she attempts to sing well by using a music book, the narrator tells her to put it away and 'what's the use to keep on trying if you practice till you're gray? ' Malindy is blessed with a beautiful voice that comes easily to her without training. It seems to come straight from nature and nature itself pauses because her music is almost celestial (not the line of the mockingbird that stops singing) . This is quite a lyrical poem and one imagines what such a voice sounds like through Dunbar's words. You almost beg the poem to have some sort of an audio. A very majestic piece.

  • Grayce Grant (8/8/2008 10:44:00 PM)

    My mother used to recite this poem at various social functions when I was a child. It brings back beautiful memories.

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