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

S.A. Beadle, "If I Had a Million" (1904)

If I had a million dollars I don't know what I'd do,
But I sometimes think I'd stroll around and squander a few;
Or, maybe I'd steel away to the country's quietude
And spend the rest of life among the simple and the rude.

I harldy think with the fashionable I'd be imbued,
And the society woman I swear I would elude;
Nor should the bosoms 'of my Sunday shirts be immaculate-
Even a million, I don't think, my cranium would inflate.

Because I'd like to slip a cog. and go it with a bit,
With my soul aglow of passion for my brother in the pit ;
Proud to be with the commoners, I'd rusticate awhile,
Nor would I care a cursed thing about the latest style.

“Brogan shoes and homespun socks?" The very things I need,
For too much dress and fashion would my lithe step impede;
A single gallus, friend, would hold my breeches on to me,
And I'd not care a snap about their bagging at the knee.

The doctrine of the broad-brimmed hat I'm sure I would not heed.
I believe in reducing things to what we really need;
Besides I've always been content under a brimless cap,
To go it with the urchins a-frolicing, jolly chap.

With them I'd like to take just now a little bit of ease,
A lounging where I used to, out under the apple trees,
A whittling and swapping jokes with Bill and Tom and Ned,
And let our mem'ries Ait around the lore of the trundle-bed.

Aye, over and above it all, this is the simple truth:
If I'd it, and could, I would spend a million for my youth!
Then with my true love I would go a sparking it again,
And look the love upon her my tongue could never explain.

To lead her once again, my friend, through the old Virginia reel :
To salute her, to balance all; again, to fondly feel
The same old bliss I used to while swinging corners all
And stepping to the music of the jocund country ball,

Were worth millions of yellow pelf to a maimed old chap like me,
And I'd give it, if I could, with a zest of childish glee.
Oh! if I could but put away my gout and rhumatis',
And take an old-time outing from the pressure of my "biz,"

With a bonny girl and youth I'd go to the fair old sunny clime,
Down the sylvan haunts of Dixie, where the jessamines ever twine;
Where the lillies faint of sweetness, and ever blows the thyme;
Where the seasons all are summer and the climate is sublime !

Where the rose aflame of beauty, drops its petals on the sward,
Geraniums blush to scarlet; the passion flowers nod
And the breezy sweep of zephyrs brings on the metric chime
Of the winged minstrelsy in in the glory of their prime..

If you could take the silver from this old pate of mine,
Call back my youth a-gambling down yon vista way sublime,
And bring me back my true love, my long-lost love again,
Up from among the daisies where she so long hath lain ,

The million dollars you might have and millions o'er and o'er
Again I'd take my love and youth and ask for nothing more.

Published in Voice of the Negro, January 1904

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