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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "with the Lark" (1896)

  Folks ain't got no right to censuah othah folks about dey habits;
  Him dat giv' de squir'ls de bushtails made de bobtails fu' de rabbits.
  Him dat built de gread big mountains hollered out de little valleys,
  Him dat made de streets an' driveways wasn't shamed to make de alleys.

  We is all constructed diff'ent, d'ain't no two of us de same;
  We cain't he'p ouah likes an' dislikes, ef we'se bad we ain't to blame.
  Ef we 'se good, we need n't show off, case you bet it ain't ouah doin'
  We gits into su'ttain channels dat we jes' cain't he'p pu'suin'.

  But we all fits into places dat no othah ones could fill,
  An' we does the things we has to, big er little, good er ill.
  John cain't tek de place o' Henry, Su an' Sally ain't alike;
  Bass ain't nuthin' like a suckah, chub ain't nuthin' like a pike.

  When you come to think about it, how it 's all planned out it 's splendid.
  Nuthin 's done er evah happens, 'dout hit 's somefin' dat 's intended;
  Don't keer whut you does, you has to, an' hit sholy beats de dickens,--
  Viney, go put on de kittle, I got one o' mastah's chickens.

Published in Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896
Also published in Colored American Magazine, April 1901

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