The Voice Of The Banjo

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

In a small and lonely cabin out of noisy
traffic’s way,
Sat an old man, bent and feeble, dusk of face,
and hair of gray,
And beside him on the table, battered, old, and
worn as he,
Lay a banjo, droning forth this reminiscent
melody:

“Night is closing in upon us, friend of mine,
but don’t be sad;
Let us think of all the pleasures and the joys
that we have had.
Let us keep a merry visage, and be happy till
the last,
Let the future still be sweetened with the honey
of the past.

“For I speak to you of summer nights upon the
yellow sand,
When the Southern moon was sailing high and
silvering all the land;
And if love tales were not sacred, there’s a tale
that I could tell
Of your many nightly wanderings with a dusk
and lovely belle.

“And I speak to you of care-free songs when
labour’s hour was o’er,
And a woman waiting for your step outside the
cabin door,
And of something roly-poly that you took upon
your lap,
While you listened for the stumbling, hesitating
words, ‘Pap, pap.’

“I could tell you of a ‘possum hunt across the
wooded grounds,
I could call to mind the sweetness of the baying
of the hounds,
You could lift me up and smelling of the tim-
ber that’s in me,
Build again a whole green forest with the mem-
’ry of a tree.

“So the future cannot hurt us while we keep
the past in mind,
What care I for trembling fingers,—what care
you that you are blind?
Time may leave us poor and stranded, circum-
stance may make us bend;
But they’ll only find us mellower, wont they,
comrade?—in the end.”

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