Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American Women Writers 1900-1922

The Old and the New

**Son, come tell me 'bout the meetin';
   Kinder glad I didn't go,
Since the night turned out so stormy,
   Feels alike it's go'n' to snow,

"I've been settin' here, a-noddin',
   An' a-listenin' to the win';
Jest 'bout dropped off in a slumber,
   When I heard you comin' in.

"'Wu$ the sermon good this ev'nin'?
   ('Spec' 'twus jest about the same;)
We ain't had no rousin' sermons,
   Since that Elder Ma'shall came."

"Well, you'll have to change that, mother,
   Marshall tried himself tonight;
My! the women got to shouting,
   And they knocked things left and right.

"Mother, you just ought to've been there;*'
   "Wush I had! I'us 'bout to say:—
Somethings always sure to happen,
   Ev'ry time I stay away

"Go on, tell me all about it;"
   "Can't begin to tell you all,
But that Smith girl near went crazy,
   And she got an awful fall,

"Five or six were trying to hold her,
   But that  woman pitched and tore,
Till at last, she broke loose from them,
   And fell flat, on that hard floor.

"Tell you, ma, it kind of scared me;
   When she fell, she struck her head,
And she lay so stiff and quiet.
   That it seemed like she was dead.

"Wouldn't *a' happened ef I'd been there,
   Guess they didn't hold her tight;
But it won't be nothin' ser'ous,
Ef the gal wus shoutin' right.'"

"I'm not sure about that, mother,"
   "Well, I am! and now, go on;
Tell me mo' about the meetin',
   For I see 'twus p'int'l wawm.

"Wush to goodness, I had been there!
   Serves me right! that's what I got,
Settin' by the fire a sleepin";
   Could 'a' gone as well as not.

"I jest know Aunt Luce got happy!"
   "Ma, you've never seen her shout!
Why, she just did take on awful,
   And Florinda took her out.'"

"Took her out? Jest like Florinda!
   She's entirely too high-tone';
Gittin' 'shamed uv her old grandma;
   Think she'd better left her 'lone."

"Mother, I don't blame Florinda,
  For Aunt Luce is pretty old,
And the church was all confusion,
   Seemed they'd got beyond control."

"I don't keer! it wouldn't hurt her,
   Ef she'd let her had it out;
That's some more uv your new notions*
   Folks don't git loo old to shout."

"Now, I didn't say that mother;"
   "Think I don't know what you mean?
You wus gittin' down on shoutin'
   Long before you left your teens."

"Didn't say I hated shouting,
   Sometimes, it may be all right;
But they often overdo it,
   And that's what they did tonight."

'Oh don't talk 'bout overdoin',
   You can't smooth it over none,
Ef you had your way about it,
   'T'wouldn't be no shoutin' done.

"Talkin' 'bout them overdoin'!
   Ef you had a mite uv sens'.
You would know they couldn't help it;
   They can't stop, once they commence."

"Oh that's what they always tell you!
   I know that old song by heart;
If they know they can t control it,
   Then they'd better not to start."

"Acting like they'd lost their senses;
   Don't care how far they're behind
In their common sense and business,
   So they have that "happy time,"

"When it comes to noise and shouting,
   Plenty answer to the call;
When it's work, and sober thinking.
   Then, a few must do it all "

"Shame on you! your ma has shouted,
   An' you know she'll shout agin;
Shucks! I thought you had religion.
   But I see you're still in sin."

"Why I didn't mean you, mother;
   You think I'd say that of you?"
"Boy, ef you don't b'lieve in shoutin',
I don't know whut vou would do!'*

"Oh, I wish I hadn't spoken!
   Ma, you don't quite understand—"
"'Spec' I don't; I'm so old-fashioned,
   An' you're such a modern man.

With your high-flown modern notions
   'Bout the way the church should go;
Comin' here a-scornin' shoutin'!
   You must think that I am Flo.

"No, indeed! I ain't Florinda;
   Since she come back fum that school,
An' you've been a courtin' uv her,
   Don't know which's the biggest fool

"'Spec' when you an' her git married,
   You won't have me 'round you, then;
'Spec' you'll send me to the po' house,
   Ef I dare to say 'Amen'."

"Ma, you know you're talking nonsense,
   I'd been married long ago,
If I hadn't been a waiting
   Till you learn to care for Flo.

"And you're too hard on Florinda;
   'Course, she doesn't shout and scream,
But a truer, sweeter, Christian,
   I, for one, have never seen.

"Why, I wouldn't give Florinda,
   With her gentle. Christian way,
For a dozen shouting women,
   Can't help what you old folks say!"

"Nonsense! boy, you's gone plumb crazy;
   I kin git along with Flo,
Go on.mar'y her ef you wan'to,—
   Might of told me that befo'.

"So that's where the shoe is pinchin*?
   Waitin' see whut I would do;
'Fraid I won't git 'long with Flora;
   Boy, don't I git 'long with you?

"You is jest as bad as Flora,
   Both is got your high-tone' ways,
Aftah all, 'spec* you can't help it,
   Comin' 'long in these new days.

"Well, we won't quar'l 'bout religion,
   Folks an' times change like the tide;
But your ma will keep on shoutin'.
   Till she reach the 'other side'."

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