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

Maggie Pogue Johnson, "To See Ol' Booker T." (1910)

To See Ol' Booker T.

Way down Souf whar de lillies grow,
Is the lan' I wants to see,
En to dat lan' I specs to go,
Jis to see ol' Booker T.
I specs to take my faithful mule
En hitch him to de cart,
En fo' dat famous cullered skool
I's gwine to make a start.
I'll take a box and pack my lunch
En start wid my ol' mule,
Case I know 'twill be a long time
Fo' I reach dat Cullered Skool.
I wont get tired on de way,
But sing en feel so free,
Jis longin' fo' de day
To see ol' Booker T.
I hopes dat my ol' mule
Wont gib out on de way,
Befor' I reach dat skool,
Case I tell you dat wont pay.
Case dis feeble ol' man
Ain't no lad, you see,
But befo' I leabes dis lan'
I mus' see Booker T.
So I pray de Lawd to keep
Bof me en my ol' mule,
En spar us till we git
To dat Cullered Skool.
En gib our eyes de light,
Dat we can cle'rly see,
Dat Alabama lan' so bright,
En dear ol' Booker T.
I wonder ef he'll be at home,
Case I heahed he'd been to sea,
En all de fer off lan's did roam,
Dis same Booker T.
Dat eben kings en queens so great
Did strive to shake his han'
En welcome Booker T.
To der native land.
Now, you know he mus' be great;
Well, I's gwine dar to see,
En ef I git dar soon or late,
I'll ax fo' Booker T.
Dey say dat is de bigges' skool
De same as eny town,
En neber was so many chaps
Eber seen aroun'.
Day teaches you all kin's ob wuk
En how to write en read,
En figger in de 'rithmetic,
En ebery t'ing you needs.
Dey teaches you to plant de co'n,
En eben how to plow;
I tell you, man, as sho's you born,
I'm on my way dar now.
En when I near dat skool,
En all dem chaps I see,
Dey better had keep cool,
En not make fun at me.
I sho' will bus' der heads,
Case my only plea
Is dat fo' I's dead
I mus' see Booker T.
Right in his office I will go,
En dar I'll take a seat,
En ax fo' Booker T., you know,
En res' my w'ary feet.
I'll tell him I has jis now 'rived,
From ol' Virginny lan',
En took dat long en lonesom' drive
To shake his willin' han'.
En dar I'll set en look at him,
En he will look at me,
En fo' my eyes get dim.
While I kin cl'erly see.
I'll take his gracious han'
Widin my trimblin' grasp,
En praise de Lawd I reached de lan',—
I's finished up my tas'.
"I's seen dis great, great cullered man,
I's ready now to go;
You've done a great wuk in dis lan',
Is why I lubs you so."
So now my eyes I clos' to res',
I's happy, yea, so free;
I's took de journey, stood de tes'
En seen ol' Booker T.

Published in Virginia Dreams, 1910

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