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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Foolin Wid De Seasons" (1901)


  Seems lak folks is mighty curus
    In de way dey t'inks an' ac's.
  Dey jes' spen's dey days a-mixin'
    Up de t'ings in almanacs.
  Now, I min' my nex' do' neighbour,--
    He's a mighty likely man,
  But he nevah t'inks o' nuffin
    'Ceptin' jes' to plot an' plan.

  All de wintah he was plannin'
    How he 'd gethah sassafras
  Jes' ez soon ez evah Springtime
    Put some greenness in de grass.
  An' he 'lowed a little soonah
    He could stan' a coolah breeze
  So 's to mek a little money
    F'om de sugah-watah trees.

  In de summah, he 'd be waihin'
    Out de linin' of his soul,
  Try 'n' ca'ci'late an' fashion
    How he 'd git his wintah coal;
  An' I b'lieve he got his jedgement
    Jes' so tuckahed out an' thinned
  Dat he t'ought a robin's whistle
    Was de whistle of de wind.

  Why won't folks gin up dey plannin',
    An' jes' be content to know
  Dat dey 's gittin' all dat's fu' dem
    In de days dat come an' go?
  Why won't folks quit movin' forrard?
    Ain't hit bettah jes' to stan'
  An' be satisfied wid livin'
   In de season dat 's at han'?

  Hit 's enough fu' me to listen
    W'en de birds is singin' 'roun',
  'Dout a-guessin' whut 'll happen
    W'en de snow is on de groun'.
  In de Springtime an' de summah,
    I lays sorrer on de she'f;
  An' I knows ol' Mistah Wintah
    Gwine to hustle fu' hisse'f.

  We been put hyeah fu' a pu'pose,
    But de questun dat has riz
  An' made lots o' people diffah
    Is jes' whut dat pu'pose is.
  Now, accordin' to my reas'nin',
    Hyeah's de p'int whaih I 's arriv,
  Sence de Lawd put life into us,
    We was put hyeah fu' to live!

Published in Humour and Dialect
Also published in Colored American Magazine, April 1901

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