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

Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. "Answer to Dunbar's 'After a Visit'" (1898)

 [The following is an answer to a poem written by Paul L. Dunbar after his  visit to Kentucky.] 
 So, you be'n to ole Kentucky, 
  An' you want to go ag'in ? 
 Well, Kentucky 'll doff her kerchief 
  An' politely ask you in. 
 An' she 'll loosen from her girdle 
  What perhaps you didn't see — 
 Keys that fit the other cupboards 
 Of her hospitality. 
 Not that she's inclined to hold back 
  With the good, and give the worst; 
 But, you know, in all fair dealin', 
 What is first must be the first. 
 So, when she takes key the second 
 An' gives it a twist er two 
 (Maybe I ought not to say it) 
  It'll most nigh startle you. 
 An' then keys the third and fourth, sir, 
  (Not to speak of all the rest) 
 Wouldn't stop at crackin' buttons, 
 They'd jest smash that Sunday vest. 
 And your happiness would find, sir, 
 A momentum then and there 
 That would carry it a-sweepin' 
 Through the stronghold of despair. 
 Now, the grippin' o' the hand, sir, 
 An' the welcome that you say 
 Was so firm an' true an' all that 
 Has a kind o' curious way. 
 At the first it's sorter slow like, 
 Till it forms a league with you, 
 Then it makes a kind o' circuit 
  That jest thrills you thro' an' thro'. 
 But it may be I had better 
  Not discuss this aftermath 
 Fur it might stir up your feelings 
 To the righteous point of wrath 
 As you brood o'er what you lost, sir, 
 By not stayin' with us longer. 
 . Ah, well, come to see us often, 
  Ole Kentucky 'll make you stronger. 
 So, you be'n to ole Kentucky, 
 An' you want to go ag'in ? 
 Well, Kentucky's standin' waitin' 
 Jest to take you wholly in, 
 An' she'll loosen her vast girdle 
  So that you can fully see 
 All the roots, fruits, leaves, an' branches 
  Of her hospitality. 

Published in Joseph S. Cotter, Links of Friendship, 1898 

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