Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Candle-Lightin' Time (1901)

Candle-Lightin' Time

Illustrated with photographs by
Leigh Richmond Miner
of the Hampton Institute Camera Club

Decorations by Margaret Armstrong, New York

To my friend Mrs. Fitzgerald

First published by Dodd, Mead and Company
University Press, John Wilson and Son, Cambridge, USA

Copyright 1901

Fishin'

W'en I git up in de mo'nin' an' de clouds is big an' black,
Dey's a kin' o' wa'nin' shivah goes a'scootin' down my back;
Den I says to my ol' ooman ez I watches down de lane,
"Don't you so't o' reckon, Lizy, dat we gwine to have some rain?"

"Go on, man," my Lizy answah, "you cain't fool me, not a bit,
I don't see no rain a-comin', ef you's wishin' fu' it, quit,
Case de mo' you t'ink erbot it, an' de mo' you pray an' wish,
W'y, de rain stay 'way de longah, spechul ef you wants to fish."

But I see huh pat de skillet, an' I see huh cas' huh eye
Wid a kin' o' anxious motion to'ds de da'kness in de sky;
An' I knows whut she's a-t'inkin', 'dough she tries so ha'd to hide,
She's a-saying', "Would n't catfish now tas'e mons'tous bully, fried?"

Den de clouds git black an' blackah, an' de thundah 'mence to roll,
An' de rain, hit 'mence a-fallin', oh, I's happy, bless my soul!
Ez I look at dat ol' skillet, an' I 'magine I kin see
Jes a slew o' new-ketched catfish sizzlin' daih fu' huh an me.

'T ain't no use to go a-ploughin', fu' de groun'll be too wet.
So I puts out fu' de big house at a moughty pace, you bet,
An' ol' mastah say, "Well, Lishy, ef you think hit's gwine to rain,
Go on fishin', hit's de weathah, an' I 'low we cain't complain."

Talk erbout a dahky walkin' wid his haid up in de aih!
Have to feel mine evah minute to be sho' I got it daih;
Fu' de win' is cuttin' capahs an a-lashin' thoo de trees,
But de rain keeps on a-singin' blessid songs, lak "Tek yo' ease."

Wid my pole erpon my shouldah an' my wo'm-can in my han',
I kin feel de fish a-waitin' w'en I strikes de rivah's san';
Nevah min', you ho'ny scoun'els, need n' swim erroun' an' grin,
I'll be grinnin' in a minute w'en I 'mence to haul you in.

W'en de fish begin to nibble, an' de co'k begin to jump,
I's erfeared dey'll quit dey bitin', case dey hyeah my hea't go "thump"
Twell de co'k go way down undah, an' I raise a awful shout,
Ez a big ol' yallah belly comes a-gallivantin' out.

Need n't wriggle, Mistah Catfish, case I got you jes de same,
You been eatin', I'll be eatin', an' we needer ain't to blame.
But you need n't feel so lonesome fu' I's throwin' out to see
Ef dey ain't some of yo' comerds fu' to keep you company.

Spo't? dis fishin'! now you talkin', w'y dey ain't no kin' to beat;
I do' keer ef I is soakin', laigs, an' back, an' naik, an' feet,
It's de spo't I's lookin' aftah. Hit's de pleasure an' de fun,
Dough I knows dat Lizy's waitin' wid de skillet w'en I's done.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Candle-Lightin' Time, Lyrics of Love and Laughter

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