Whistling Sam

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by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I has hyeahd o’ people dancin’ an’ I’s
hyeahd o’ people singin’.
An’ I’s been ‘roun’ lots of othahs dat could keep
de banjo ringin’;
But of all de whistlin’ da’kies dat have lived an’
died since Ham,
De whistlin’est I evah seed was ol’ Ike Bates’s
Sam.
In de kitchen er de stable, in de fiel’ er mowin’
hay,
You could hyeah dat boy a-whistlin’ pu’ty nigh
a mile erway,—
Puck’rin’ up his ugly features ‘twell you could n’t
see his eyes,
Den you’d hyeah a soun’ lak dis un f’om dat
awful puckah rise:

 *Musical Notes*

When dey had revival meetin’ an’ de Lawd’s
good grace as flowin’
On de groun’ dat needed wat’rin’ whaih de
seeds of good was growin’,
While de othahs was a-singin’ an’ a-shoutin’
right an’ lef’,
You could hyeah dat boy a-whistlin’ kin’ o’ sof’
beneaf his bref:

 *Musical Notes*

At de call fu’ colo’ed soldiers, Sam enlisted
‘mong de res’
Wid de blue o’ Gawd’s great ahmy wropped
about his swellin’ breas’,
An’; he laffed an’ whistled loudah in his youfful
joy an’ glee
Dat de govament would let him he’p to mek
his people free.
Daih was lots o’ ties to bin’ him, pappy, mammy,
an’ his Dinah,—
Dinah, min’ you, was his sweethea’t, an’ dey
was n’t nary finah;
But he lef’ ‘em all, I tell you, lak a king he
ma’ched away,
Try’n’ his level bes’ to whistle, happy, solemn,
choky, gay:

 *Music Notes*

To de front he went an’ bravely fought de foe
an’ kep’ his sperrit,
An’ his comerds said his whistle made ‘em
strong when dey could hyeah it.
When a saber er a bullet cut some frien’ o’ his’n
down,
An’ de time ‘u’d come to trench him an’ de
boys ‘u’d gethah ‘roun’,
An’ dey could n’t sta’t a hymn-tune, mebbe
none o’ dem ‘u’d keer,
Sam ‘u’d whistle “Sleep in Jesus,” an’ he
knowed de Mastah ‘d hyeah.
In de camp, all sad discouraged, he would cheer
de hea’ts of all,
When above de soun’ of labour dey could hyeah
his whistle call:

 *Music Notes*

When de cruel wah was ovah an’ de boys come
ma’chin’ back,
Dey was shouts an’ cries an’ blessin’s all erlong
dey happy track,
An’ de da’kies all was happy; souls an’ bodies
bofe was freed.
Why, hit seemed lak de Redeemah mus’ ‘a’ been
on earf indeed.
Dey was gethahed all one evenin’ jes’ befo’ de
cabin do’,
When dey hyeahd somebody whistlin’ kin’ o’ sof’
an’ sweet an’ low.
Dey could n’t see de whistlah, but de hymn was
cleah and ca’m,
An’ dey all stood daih a-listenin’ ontwell Dinah
shouted, “Sam!”
An’ dey seed a little da’ky way off yandah thoo
de trees
Wid his face all in puckah mekin’ jes’ sich
soun’s ez dese:

 *Music Notes*

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