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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "A Death Song" (1899)

Audio recording / performance of this poem at the University of Dayton

  Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
  Whah de branch 'll go a-singin' as it pass.
    An' w'en I 's a-layin' low,
    I kin hyeah it as it go
  Singin', "Sleep, my honey, tek yo' res' at las'."

  Lay me nigh to whah hit meks a little pool,
  An' de watah stan's so quiet lak an' cool,
    Whah de little birds in spring,
    Ust to come an' drink an' sing,
  An' de chillen waded on dey way to school.

  Let me settle w'en my shouldahs draps dey load
  Nigh enough to hyeah de noises in de road;
    Fu' I t'ink de las' long res'
    Gwine to soothe my sperrit bes'
  Ef I's layin' 'mong de t'ings I's allus knowed.


Published in Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899)
Also published in Countee Cullen's Caroling Dusk (1927)

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