When Malindy Sings

- 1872-1906

G'way an' quit dat noise, Miss Lucy—
   Put dat music book away;
What's de use to keep on tryin'?
   Ef you practise twell you're gray,
You cain't sta't no notes a-flyin'
   Lak de ones dat rants and rings
F'om de kitchen to de big woods
   When Malindy sings.

You ain't got de nachel o'gans
   Fu' to make de soun' come right,
You ain't got de tu'ns an' twistin's
   Fu' to make it sweet an' light.
Tell you one thing now, Miss Lucy,
   An' I 'm tellin' you fu' true,
When hit comes to raal right singin',
   'T ain't no easy thing to do.

Easy 'nough fu' folks to hollah,
   Lookin' at de lines an' dots,
When dey ain't no one kin sence it,
   An' de chune comes in, in spots;
But fu' real malojous music,
   Dat jes' strikes yo' hea't and clings,
Jes' you stan' an' listen wif me
   When Malindy sings.

Ain't you nevah hyeahd Malindy?
   Blessed soul, tek up de cross!
Look hyeah, ain't you jokin', honey?
   Well, you don't know whut you los'.
Y' ought to hyeah dat gal a-wa'blin',
   Robins, la'ks, an' all dem things,
Heish dey moufs an' hides dey face.
   When Malindy sings.

Fiddlin' man jes' stop his fiddlin',
   Lay his fiddle on de she'f;
Mockin'-bird quit tryin' to whistle,
   'Cause he jes' so shamed hisse'f.
Folks a-playin' on de banjo
   Draps dey fingahs on de strings--
Bless yo' soul--fu'gits to move 'em,
   When Malindy sings.

She jes' spreads huh mouf and hollahs,
   "Come to Jesus," twell you hyeah
Sinnahs' tremblin' steps and voices,
   Timid-lak a-drawin' neah;
Den she tu'ns to "Rock of Ages,"
   Simply to de cross she clings,
An' you fin' yo' teahs a-drappin'
   When Malindy sings.

Who dat says dat humble praises
   Wif de Master nevah counts?
Heish yo' mouf, I hyeah dat music,
   Ez hit rises up an' mounts—
Floatin' by de hills an' valleys,
   Way above dis buryin' sod,
Ez hit makes its way in glory
   To de very gates of God!

Oh, hit's sweetah dan de music
   Of an edicated band;
An' hit's dearah dan de battle's
   Song o' triumph in de lan'.
It seems holier dan evenin'
   When de solemn chu'ch bell rings,
Ez I sit an' ca'mly listen
   While Malindy sings.

Towsah, stop dat ba'kin', hyeah me!
   Mandy, mek dat chile keep still;
Don't you hyeah de echoes callin'
   F'om de valley to de hill?
Let me listen, I can hyeah it,
   Th'oo de bresh of angel's wings,
Sof' an' sweet, "Swing Low,
   Sweet Chariot,"
Ez Malindy sings.

More by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A Negro Love Song

Seen my lady home las' night,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hel' huh han' an' sque'z it tight,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Hyeahd huh sigh a little sigh,
Seen a light gleam f'om huh eye,
An' a smile go flittin' by--
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

Hyeahd de win' blow thoo de pine,
    Jump back, honey, jump back,
Mockin'-bird was singin' fine,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
An' my hea't was beatin' so,
When I reached my lady's do',
Dat I couldn't ba' to go--
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

Put my ahm aroun' huh wais',
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Raised huh lips an' took a tase,
    Jump back, honey, jump back.
Love me, honey, love me true?
Love me well ez I love you?
An' she answe'd, "'Cose I do"--
    Jump back, honey, jump back.

Signs of the Times

Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah, 
   Frost a-comin' in de night, 
Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin', 
   Possum keepin' out o' sight. 
Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd, 
   Nary a step so proud ez his; 
Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key, 
   Yo' do' know whut time it is. 


Cidah press commence a-squeakin' 
   Eatin' apples sto'ed away, 
Chillun swa'min' 'roun' lak ho'nets, 
   Huntin' aigs ermung de hay. 
Mistah Tu'key keep on gobblin' 
   At de geese a-flyin' souf, 
Oomph! dat bird do' know whut's comin'; 
   Ef he did he'd shet his mouf. 


Pumpkin gittin' good an' yallah 
   Mek me open up my eyes; 
Seems lak it's a-lookin' at me 
   Jes' a-la'in' dah sayin' "Pies." 
Tu'key gobbler gwine 'roun' blowin', 
   Gwine 'roun' gibbin' sass an' slack; 
Keep on talkin', Mistah Tu'key, 
   You ain't seed no almanac. 


Fa'mer walkin' th'oo de ba'nya'd 
   Seein' how things is comin' on, 
Sees ef all de fowls is fatt'nin' — 
   Good times comin' sho's you bo'n. 
Hyeahs dat tu'key gobbler braggin', 
   Den his face break in a smile — 
Nebbah min', you sassy rascal, 
   He's gwine nab you atter while. 


Choppin' suet in de kitchen, 
   Stonin' raisins in de hall, 
Beef a-cookin' fu' de mince meat, 
   Spices groun' — I smell 'em all. 
Look hyeah, Tu'key, stop dat gobblin', 
   You ain' luned de sense ob feah, 
You ol' fool, yo' naik's in dangah, 
   Do' you know Thanksgibbin's hyeah?

In Summer

Oh, summer has clothed the earth
In a cloak from the loom of the sun!
And a mantle, too, of the skies' soft blue,
And a belt where the rivers run.

And now for the kiss of the wind,
And the touch of the air's soft hands,
With the rest from strife and the heat of life,
With the freedom of lakes and lands.

I envy the farmer's boy
Who sings as he follows the plow;
While the shining green of the young blades lean
To the breezes that cool his brow.

He sings to the dewy morn,
No thought of another's ear;
But the song he sings is a chant for kings
And the whole wide world to hear.

He sings of the joys of life,
Of the pleasures of work and rest,
From an o'erfull heart, without aim or art;
'T is a song of the merriest.

O ye who toil in the town,
And ye who moil in the mart,
Hear the artless song, and your faith made strong
Shall renew your joy of heart.

Oh, poor were the worth of the world
If never a song were heard,—
If the sting of grief had no relief,
And never a heart were stirred.

So, long as the streams run down,
And as long as the robins trill,
Let us taunt old Care with a merry air,
And sing in the face of ill.