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

Otto Bohanan, "Mammy" (1917)



She held him in her bronzen arms
   And fed him from her lavish breast,
And rid him of a child's alarms,
   With songs that gave him rest.

He loved her tenderly, he said,
   And vowed to fill her life with pleasure.
He's growing old and she is dead,
   A picture in his memory's treasure.

But once he paused upon the bench
   Ere yet he spake the final sentence
Upon a slender black-faced wench,
   Whose eyes were grime with unrepentance:

"Old Mammy's child! Tut! Tut! 'Tis bad
   For one so young to mock the law.
Your mother's eyes must deepend sad,
   She looked upon these things with awe." 

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