Chrismus On The Plantation

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

It was Chrismus Eve, I mind hit fu’ a
mighty gloomy day—
Bofe de weathah an’ de people—not a one
of us was gay;
Cose you ‘ll t’ink dat’s mighty funny ‘twell I
try to mek hit cleah,
Fu’ a da’ky’s allus happy when de holidays is

But we was n’t, fu’ dat mo’nin’ Mastah ‘d tol’ us
we mus’ go,
He’d been payin’ us sence freedom, but
could n’t pay no mo’;
He wa’n’t nevah used to plannin’ ‘fo’ he got so
po’ an’ ol’,
So he gwine to give up tryin’, an’ de homestead
mus’ be sol’.

I kin see him stan’in’ now erpon de step ez
cleah ez day,
Wid de win’ a-kind o’ fondlin’ thoo his haih all
thin an’ gray;
An’ I ‘membah how he trimbled when he said,
“It ‘s ha’d fu’ me,
Not to mek yo’ Chrismus brightah, but I ‘low
it wa’n’t to be.”

All de women was a-cryin’, an’ de men, too, on
de sly,
An’ I noticed somep’n shinin’ even in ol’ Mas-
tah’s eye.
But we all stood still to listen ez ol’ Ben come
f’om de crowd
An’ spoke up, a-try’n’ to steady down his voice
and mek it loud:—

“Look hyeah, Mastah, I’s been servin’ you’ fu’
lo! dese many yeahs,
An’ now, sence we ‘s got freedom an’ you’s kind
o’ po’, hit ‘pears
Dat you want us all to leave you ‘cause you
don’t t’ink you can pay.
Ef my membry has n’t fooled me, seem dat
whut I hyead you say.

“Er in othah wo’ds, you wants us to fu’git dat
you’s been kin’,
An’ ez soon ez you is he’pless, we’s to leave
you hyeah behin’.
Well, ef dat ‘s de way dis freedom ac’s on peo-
ple, white er black,
You kin jes’ tell Misatah Lincum fu’ to tek his
freedom back.

“We gwine wo’k dis ol’ plantation fu’ whatevah
we kin git,
Fu’ I know hit did suppo’t us, an’ de place kin
do it yit.
Now de land is yo’s, de hands is ouahs, an’ I
reckon we’ll be brave,
An’ we’ll bah ez much ez you do w’en we has
to scrape an’ save.”

Ol’ Mastah stood dah trimblin’, but a-smilin’
thoo his teahs,
An’ den hit seemed jes’ nachul-like, de place
fah rung wid cheahs,
An’ soon ez dey was quiet, some one sta’ted
sof’ an’ low:
“Praise God,” an’ den we all jined in, “from
whom all blessin’s flow!”

Well, dey was n’t no use tryin’, ouah min’s was
sot to stay,
An’ po’ ol’ Mastah could n’t plead ner baig, ner
drive us ‘way,
An’ all at once, hit seemed to us, de day was
bright agin,
So evahone was gay dat night, an’ watched de
Chrismus in.

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