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

Elma Ehrlich Levinger, "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" (1924)

That's right: keep on singing, “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny."
I ain't heard it since Miss Lucy's little girl used to sing it,
In the parlor, when I took mamma's washing 'round the back way:
It's a fine song—for white folks.

“There's where the birds warble sweet in the springtime.”
That's when it used to stink most down in nigger town;
We slept six in a room and the drains never worked right;
Lots of scarlet fever on account of them drains;
But folks got to expect it; 
My little sister, she died of it in the springtime.

"There's where I labored so hard for old Massa."
And he took his shot gun to me once and run me off the place,
When I argued about the price he give me for my cotton;
My buddy, Jake Stone, who went to France with me, talked too big:
They got Jake one night over by the creek . . .
I ain't goin' to forget in a hurry what they done to him.

"No place on earth do I love more sincerely
Than old Virginny, the place where I was bo
It's a fine place--for white folks:
But you'd have to carry me to get me back there. 

Published in The Crisis, March 1924

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