How Lucy Backslid

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

De times is mighty stirrin’ ‘mong de people
up ouah way,
Dey ‘sputin’ an’ dey argyin’ an’ fussin’ night an’
An’ all dis monst’ous trouble dat hit meks me
tiahed to tell
Is ‘bout dat Lucy Jackson dat was sich a mighty

She was de preachah’s favoured, an’ he tol’ de
chu’ch one night
Dat she traveled thoo de cloud o’ sin a-bearin’
of a light;
But, now, I ‘low he t’inkin’ dat she mus’ ‘a’ los’
huh lamp,
Case Lucy done backslided an’ dey trouble in
de camp.

Huh daddy want to beat huh, but huh mammy
daihs him to,
Fu’ she lokin’ at de question f’om a ooman’s
pint o’ view;
An’ she say dat now she would n’t have it dif-
f’ent ef she could;
Dat huh darter only acted jes’ lak any othah

Cose you know w’en women argy, dey is mighty
easy led
By dey hea’ts an’ don’t go foolin’ ‘bout de
reasons of de haid.
So huh mammy laid de law down (she ain’
reckernizin’ wrong),
But you got to mek erlowance fu’ de cause dat
go along.

Now de cause dat made Miss Lucy fu’ to th’ow
huh grace away
I’s afeard won’t baih no ‘spection w’en hit come
to jedgement day;
Do’ de same t’ing been a-wo’kin’ evah sence de
worl’ began,—
De ooman disobeyin’ fu’ to ‘tice along a man.

Ef you ‘tended de revivals which we held de
wintah pas’,
You kin rickolec’ dat convuts was a-comin’ thick
an’ fas’;
But dey ain’t no use in talkin’, dey was all lef’
in de lu’ch
W’en ol’ Mis’ Jackson’s dartah foun’ huh peace
an’ tuk de chu’ch.

W’y, she shouted ovah evah inch of Ebenezah’s
Up into de preachah’s pulpit an’ f’om dah down
to de do’;
Den she hugged an’ squeezed huh mammy, an’ she hugged an’
kissed huh dad,
An’ she struck out at huh sistah, people said,
lak she was mad.

I has ‘tended some revivals dat was lively in my
An’ I’s seed folks git ‘uligion in mos’ evah kin’
o’ way;
But I tell you, an’ you b’lieve me dat I’s speak-
in’ true indeed,
Dat gal tuk huh ‘ligion ha’dah dan de ha’dest,
yit I’s seed.

Well, f’om dat, ‘t was “Sistah Jackson, won’t you
please do dis er dat?”
She mus’ allus sta’t de singin’ w’en dey ‘d pass
eroun’ de hat,
An’ hit seemed dey was n’t nuffin’ in dat chu’ch
dat could go by
‘Dout sistah Lucy Jackson had a finger in de

But de sayin’ mighty trueful dat hit easiah to
W’en de sea is ca’m an’ gentle dan to weathah
out a gale.
Dat’s whut made dis ooman’s trouble; ef de
st’om had kep’ away,
She ‘d ‘a’ had enough ‘uligion fu’ to lasted out
huh day.

Lucy went wid ‘Lishy Davis, but w’en she jined
chu’ch, you know
Dah was lots o’ little places dat, of cose, she
could n’t go;
An’ she had to gin u dancin’ an’ huh singin’
an’ huh play.—
Now hit’s nachul dat sich goin’s-on ‘u’d drive a
man away.

So, w’en Lucy got so solemn, Ike he sta’ted fu’
to go
Wid a gal who was a sinnah an’ could mek a
bettah show.
Lucy jes’ went on to meetin’ lak she did n’t keer
a rap,
But my ‘sperunce kep’ me t’inkin’ dah was
somep’n’ gwine to drap.

Fu’ a gal won’t let ‘uligion er no othah so’t o’
Stop huh w’en she teks a notion dat she wants
a weddin’ ring.
You kin p’omise huh de blessin’s of a happy
aftah life
(An’ hit’s nice to be a angel), but she ‘d ravah
be a wife.

So w’en chrismus come an’ mastah gin a frolic
on de lawn,
Did n’t ‘sprise me not de littlest seein’ Lucy
lookin’ on.
An’ I seed a wa’nin’ lightnin’ go a-flashin’ f’om
huh eye
Jest ez ‘Lishy an’ his new gal went a-gallivantin’

An’ dat Tildy, umph! she giggled, an’ she gin
huh dress a flirt
Lak de people she was passin’ was ez common
ez de dirt;
An’ de minit she was dancin’, w’y dat gal put
on mo’aihs
Dan a cat a-tekin’ kittens up a paih o’ windin’

She could ‘fo’d to show huh sma’tness, fu’ she
could n’t he’p but know,
Dat wid jes’ de present dancahs she was ownah
of de flo’;
But I t’ink she ‘d kin’ o’ cooled down ef she
happened on de sly
Fu’ to noticed dat ‘ere lightnin’ dat I seed in
Lucy’s eye.

An’ she would n’t been so ‘stonished w’en de
people gin a shout,
An’ Lucy th’owed huh mantle back an’ come
a-glidin’ out.
Some ahms was dah to tek huh an’ she fluttahed
down de flo’
Lak a feddah f’om a bedtick w’en de win’ com-
mence to blow.

Soon ez Tildy see de trouble, she jes’ tu’n an’
toss huh haid,
But seem lak she los’ huh sperrit, all huh darin’-
ness was daid.
Did n’t cut anothah capah nary time de blessid
But de othah one, hit looked lak could n’t git
enough delight.

W’en you keeps a colt a-stan’nin’ in de stable
all along,
W’en he do git out hit’s nachul he ’ll be pullin’
mighty strong.
Ef you will tie up yo’ feelin’s, hyeah’s de bes’
advice to tek,
Look out fu’ an awful loosin’ w’en de string dat
hol’s ‘em brek.

Lucy’s mammy groaned to see huh, an’ huh
pappy sto’med an’ to’,
But she kep’ right on a-hol’in’ to de centah of
de flo’.
So dey went an’ ast de pastoh ef he could n’t
mek huh quit,
But de tellin’ of de sto’y th’owed de preachah
in a fit.

Tildy Taylor chewed huh hank’cher twell she’d
chewed it in a hole,—
All de sinnahs was rejoicin’ ‘cause a lamb had
lef’ de fol’,
An’ de las’ I seed o’ Lucy, she an’ ‘Lish was
side an’ side:
I don’t blame de gal fu’ dancin’, an’ I could n’t
ef I tried.

Fu’ de men dat wants to ma’y ain’t a-growin’
‘roun’ on trees,
An de dat wants to git one sholy has to try
to please.
Hit’s a ha’d t’ing fu’ a ooman fu’ to pray an’ jes’
set down,
An’ to sacafice a husban’ so ‘s to try to gain a

Now, I don’ say she was justified in follerin’ huh
But aldough she los’ huh ‘ligion, yit she sholy
got de man.
Latah on, w’en she is suttain dat de preachah’s
made ‘em fas’
She kin jes’ go back to chu’ch an’ ax fu’giveness
fu’ de pas’!

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