African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Daniel Webster Davis, "Skeetin' On De Ice" (1895)

Skeetin' on De Ice:
[A Poetical Version of a true occurance in Henrico Co., Va.]

At a little country meeting in a log house near the road,
   The saints had duly gathered "fur de worshup ub de Lord;"
When "Bru Levi send de pulpit" cleared his throat, and then began
   "De spoundin' ub de scripshur, fur to cheer de spet'ual man.

I was a teacher in the county and was in duty bound
   In attendance on the services, to help the brethren 'long;
Brother Levi was the pastor, and dispensed the gospel here
   As he misunderstood it at twenty-five a year.

The day was warm and sultry, sleep was getting in my eyes,
   When this most unique sermon filled me with intense surprise;
"My belubbed congregashun, I bin preachin' 'bout de possle,
   An' tock my tex' whar Paul poked his 'pistle at de Romans."

"But to-day I gwine to tell you 'bout de chillua ub de Lord,
   When dey crossed de ragin' waters at de spokin ub de word.
I kno' ya'll lung bin wondrin' how de chillun crossed de sea,
   But tiz jes ez plan ez kin be, to er' spienced man like me."

"You see twus in de winter an' de water all wuz frez,
   By de win de Marster sen dem 'strong nuf to raz de dead;
Now ya'll see de thing wuz simple, an' likewise very nic',
   Fur all de chillun had to do, wuz to skeet across on ice."

"But when ole Farro kum long wid dem hebby chayut wheels,
   De ice jes gin away an' ole Farro had to frez."
This was hard on my intelligence as the teaching of the school,
   So I had to rise and say a word, although against the rule.

"Beg pardon, brother pastor, but geographies you know
   Say this land is in the tropics where can be no ice or snow.
"I thanks you dough I does not like no sturbmence on dis topic,
   But in dem days 'twont no gogerfies, so cours dar wont no tropics.”

Of course I was dumbfounded, the brethren said “amen,”
   An thus he then concluded ere I could speak again,
When you gwine to cross de water you better take advice,
   An' 'cep'n de Lord am wid you, don't skeet across on ice.”

Published in Idle Moments, 1895
Also published in Colored American Magazine, April 1901

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