African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Effie Lee Newsome, "Negro Street Serenade (In the South)" (1926)

The quavering zigzag of the fiddle’s notes;
The thumping “tum-tum” of the banjo and guitar;
The gauzy quiver, flutter of the fiddle;
The measured muffled thud of that guitar!
And then a voice breaks forth—
Loose, careless, mellow—
A wealth of voice that rolls, soars,
Rolls and falls,
A reveling, rich voice,
Deeper than the banjo’s;
With more of melody than fiddles’ trebles,
Yet with that subtle minor trembling through 
Which shakes the viol’s slender vibrance
As the winds might—
And all of this out in a half-hushed autumn dusk!
The autumn air itself is tense, suspended,
And into this that most spontaneous song!
Which ripples on and floats and floats
Midst “thum” of banjo
And rhythmic background of that constant taut guitar,
And travels with the wavers of the fiddle,
To float and rise and rest with moon and star! 


Published in The Crisis, July 1926

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