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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Dat Ol' Mare O' Mine" (1903)


WANT to trade me, do you, mistah? Oh, well, now I reckon not,
Why you couldn' buy my Sukey fu' a thousan' on de spot, Dat ol' mare o' mine!
Yes, huh coat ah long an' shaggy, an' she ain't no shakes to see;
Dat's a ring-bone, yes, you right, sub, an' she got a on'ry knee;
But dey ain't no use in talkin', she de only hoss fu' me, Dat ol' mare o' mine.
Co'se I knows dat Suke's contra'y, an' she moughty ap' to vex;
But you got to mek erlowance fu' de nature o' huh sex, Dat ol' mare o' mine.
Ef you pull huh on' de lef han', she plum' 'termined to go right,
A cannon couldn' skeer huh, but she boun' to tek a fright
At a piece o' common paper, er anyt'ing whut's white, Dat ol' mare o' mine.
W'en my eyes commence to fail me, dough, I trus'es to huh sight,
An' she'll tote me safe an' hones' on de ve'y da'kes' night,
Dat or mare o' mine.
Ef I whup huh, she jes' switch huh tail, and settle to a walk,
Ef I whup huh mo' she shek huh haid, an' lak ez not she balk,
But huh sense ain't no ways lackin', she do evaht'ing but talk, Dat ol' mare o' mine.
But she gentle ez a lady when she know huh beau kin see,
An' she sholy got mo' gumption any day den you an' me,
Dat ol' mare o' mine.
She's a leetle slow a-goin', an' she moughty ha'd to start,
But we's gittin' ol' togeddah, an' she's closah to my heart,
An' I doesn't reckon, mistah, dat she'd sca'cely keer to part,
Dat ol' mare o' mine.
W'y I knows de time dat cidah's kin' o' muddled up my haid,
Ef it hadn't been fu' Sukey heah, I reckon I'd been daid,
Dat ol' mare o' mine.
But she got me in de middle o' de road an' tuk me home,
An' she wouldn' let me wandah, ner she wouldn' let me roam,
Dat's de kin' o' hoss to tie to, w'en you's seed de cidah's foam,
Dat ol' mare o' mine.
You kin talk erbout yo' heaven, you kin talk erbout yo' hell,
Dey is people, dey is hosses, dey is cattle, den dey's— well—
Dat ol' mare o' mine.
She's de beatenes' t'ing dat evah struck de medders o' de town,
An' aldough huh haid ain't fitten fu' to weah no golden crown,
D'ain't a blessed way fu' Petah fu' to tu'n my Sukey down,
Dat ol' mare o' mine.


Published in "Lyrics of Love and Laughter" (1903)
Also published in "The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer" (1920)

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