Paul Laurence Dunbar

(1872-1906 / Ohio / United States)

Accountability - Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

FOLKS ain't got no right to censuah othah folks about dey habits;
Him dat giv' de squir'ls de bushtails made de bobtails fu' de rabbits.
Him dat built de gread big mountains hollered out de little valleys,
Him dat made de streets an' driveways wasn't shamed to make de alleys.

We is all constructed diff'ent, d'ain't no two of us de same;
We cain't he'p ouah likes an' dislikes, ef we'se bad we ain't to blame.
Ef we'se good, we need n't show off, case you bet it ain't ouah doin'
We gits into su'ttain channels dat we jes' cain't he'p pu'suin'.

But we all fits into places dat no othah ones could fill,
An' we does the things we has to, big er little, good er ill.
John cain't tek de place o' Henry, Su an' Sally ain't alike;
Bass ain't nuthin' like a suckah, chub ain't nuthin' like a pike.

When you come to think about it, how it's all planned out it's splendid.
Nuthin's done er evah happens, 'dout hit's somefin' dat's intended;
Don't keer whut you does, you has to, an' hit sholy beats de dickens,--
Viney, go put on de kittle, I got one o' mastah's chickens.


Comments about Accountability by Paul Laurence Dunbar

  • (5/27/2009 8:10:00 PM)


    'When you come to think about it, how it's all planned out it's splendid.'

    That first line of the last stanza tells the purpose of this poem. This line is written in clear english - the other lines of the poem are written in negroe dialect.

    Ah, I see: 'Folks ain't got no right to censah otha folks about they habits.'

    I've read that Paul Laurence Dunbar rued the fact that his poetry was made most popular by his use of the negroe dialect. I'm sure he would rather we appreciate the depth of his writing expression, rather than be entertained by how negroes talked.
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Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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