DADDY DO-FUNNY'S WISDOM JINGLES
BY RUTH McENERY STUART
ILLUSTRATED BY G. H. CLEMENTS
NEW YORK THE CENTURY CO. 1916
Copyright, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, by The Century Co.
Published, October, 1913
To the Memory of those faithful brown slave-men of the plantations throughout the South, Daddy's contemporaries all, who during the war while their masters were away fighting in a cause opposed to their emancipation, brought their blankets and slept outside their mistresses' doors, thus keeping night-watch over otherwise unprotected women and children—a faithful guardianship of which the annals of those troublous times record no instance of betrayal.
In presenting a loyal and venerable ex-slave as an artless exponent of freedom, freedom of conduct as well as of speech, the author of this trivial volume is perhaps not composing an individual so truly as individualizing a composite, if the expression will pass.
The grizzled brown dispenser of homely admonitions is a figure not unfamiliar to those who have "moved in plantation circles" in the cotton and sugar country, and touched hands with the kindly dark survivors of the old regime.
If the man, Daddy Do-funny, was unique as an individual, perhaps in the very fact of an individuality unembarrassed by the limitations of convention, of education and of precedent, he becomes in a sense typical of his people and of his time.
Of course, a man is not called Do-funny for nothing, not even playfully and in the free vernacular of rusticity at its freest.
One of a small community of superannuated pensioners upon the bounty of their former owners, Daddy was easily first citizen of Evergreen annex on Crepe Myrtle plantation, which is to say he was therein a personage of place and of privilege, coming and going at will, doing as he pleased, and as, with uplifted eye, he reverently boasted, "sponsible to nobody but Almighty Gord for manners and behavior."
Even so late as this year of grace, a full half century after "emancipation," there are still to be found on many of the larger plantations in the far South a few such members of the order of the Rocking-chair, whose records of "good and honorable service" reach back through periods of bondage, even such kindergartners as septuagenarians in the privileged class, having clear title to nearly a quarter of a century of slave memories; not to mention the occasional centenarian with even his semi-occasional uncle or father poking around, toothless and white-plumed dignitaries, these, sometimes with leaders, being blind, but ever important in pride of association and memory.
It is something even if one is bent double and may never again behold the light of day, to be able to reach back into a dim and forgotten past and to say, "I remember," especially when the memory recalls days of brilliance and of importance.
But Daddy's place among the gentle Knights and Ladies of the Rocking-chair was far and away above such as these whose thoughts, alert though they were and loyal, travelled forever backward to the sweet but worn fields of memory where every pleasure is a recognition and fashions do not change—a restful retreat for dreamers whose days of activity are done.
But Daddy's mind worked forward and upward and although he did not know the alphabet excepting by rote, a common ante-bellum plantation accomplishment, and while professing high contempt for what he called "cold shelf-knowledge," his reputation for wisdom, wisdom as gleaned in observation and experience and "ripened by insight," was supreme, while his way of casually tossing it off in bits in playful epigram finally gave the word its plural form so that the expression "Do-Funny Wisdoms" came into familiar use.
As an example of his rambling talk, much of which seems at least semivagarious on transcription, I recall one of his meandering dissertations on the value of experience as superior to observation.
Several of the old people, his neighbors, had joined the listening children who surrounded him under the fig-tree, and perhaps he unconsciously deferred to them in his accent of their common possession in length of days, although he gave no sign of heed to any audience, when he said:
"Dey's mighty few facts de same behind an' befo', not to say inside an' outside, and a man can go roun' an' roun' de blackberry bush an' not git nowhar. 'Spe'unce is a thorny bramble, an' yer 'bleeged to go th'ough it, to draw blood, an', I tell yer, de blood is de life!"
Although this tribute brought grunts of approval from the gray heads, Daddy was soon off at a tangent in playful fancy, hitting off a foible or "celebrating truth and justice" in one of the unconscious epigrams which it is sought herein to preserve, even when having occasionally to hammer them into shape, for, while Daddy was almost unerring in rhyme, his rhythm, never at fault in delivery, was strictly a temperamental matter, not adequately renderable in cold print.
But more than as philosopher, satirist or seer was the old man distinguished as a social factor on the place. Wherever his chair was set, there were the children gathered together, both black and white, eager listeners to his quaint pictorial recitals, even seeming to cherish the "Wisdoms" which fell from his tongue, as is not a common way with children, who seem instinctively to spurn the obviously didactic.
But Daddy's moralizing, besides its saving grace of imagery, was generally sequential and convincing; while his repartee, to use a word which seems almost a misfit in this rural setting, had a way of hitting the mark and striking fire, as when, in reply to the question from a forth-putting youngster on one occasion, "Where do you keep all your wisdoms, Daddy?" he snapped:
"In my ole toof holes, dat's whar! Wisdoms don't ripen good tel yo' toofs is ready to drap out. Ev'rybody knows dat Gord A'mighty ain't nuver is set but one live Wisdom-toof in a man's mouf—an' dat comes late an' goes early."
And then he added with a mischievous smile:
"You-all smarty undergrowth, you ain't chawed life yit. You jes 'speramintin' wid yo' milk-toofs.
"Now's yo' havin' time, chillen, but to have an' to lose, dat's life!
"Study wisdom now an' minch on it good wid yo yo'ng baby toofs an' hol' fas' to it, so's it'll meller down ripe, time de caverns opens for it.
"But look out! I knows a lot o' ole vacant wisdom caves for rent behin' dis crepe myrtle hedge—so, I say, watch and pray! Pray for insight an' outsight! An' even so, dey's some wisdoms so fine you can't see 'em tel you nearin' Home an' livin' on de far side o' life!"
Daddy lived alone in a tiny vine-clad cabin and there were times when he seemed frail and to need care, and the doctor said he was rheumatic. This, however, he denied, declining companionship while he insisted that the sharp pains which occasionally twisted his brow were only growing pains which he was glad to endure as not having got his growth in his first childhood, he was "'bleeged to wrastle wid it in de second," and, "of course," he added, "it comes harder when a man's bones is set."
On days when his pains were bad, he would propel himself around in a roller-chair, which he called his chariot; and although evidently suffering, he was never heard to complain. Once, when he seemed almost helpless, some one asked him how he had got into the chair, and was quickly silenced by his ready answer, "Gord lifted me in!"
Now, to Daddy clothes were clothes. In dress as in manners, he knew no obligation of precedent; and as to fashion, the word made him chuckle.
When his pains were unusually severe and it was difficult for him to get into his own garments, he did not hesitate to clothe himself in one of the flowing wrappers which his old wife, Judy, long since dead, had worn.
And thus it happened that while on some days an aged man might have been seen hobbling about, working among his plants, on others there appeared to be an old woman propelling herself around in a rolling chair; and seeing her, his neighbors, with perhaps a chuckle, would remark, "I see Daddy Do-funny is laid up ag'in!"
Another peculiar habit of the old man was the way in which he took his bath—a dangerous process, one would think, for a rheumatic, but harmless, no doubt, to growing pains. Seeing the rain coming, he would exclaim: "Gord sendeth de rain! He's offerin' me a bath—just or unjust!" Then donning his "bath-slip," an old wool wrapper of Judy's and getting into his roller-chair, he would wheel out and sit calmly in the shower, often closing his eyes and lifting his face as he exclaimed: "Bless Gord for de sweet drops! Bless Gord for de rain!" and when he had had bath enough, he would either put up his umbrella or roll his chair indoors as he felt inclined.
But perhaps we cannot get nearer the soul of the old man than by recalling a conversation which occurred during an invasion of the children, a conversation between him and his guests which is thrown into a sort of rhyme for easy memorizing, passing from one speaker to another without more than the natural pause for reply.
Obviously, the children began it:
"Ol' Daddy Do-funny, How do you come on?" "Po'ly, thank Gord, honey, Po'ly dis morn. My ol' spine it's sort o' stiff, An' my arms dey 'fuze to lif'. An' de miz'ry 's in my breas', An' I got some heart-distress. An' de growin' pains dey lingers, In my knee-j'ints an' my fingers, But I'm well, praise Gord, dis mornin'."
"Ol' Daddy Do-funny, What cuyus talk! How is you well, when you Can't even walk?"
"Hush, you foolish chillen, hush! What's dat singin' in de brush? Ain't dat yonder blue de sky? Feel de cool breeze passin' by! Dis ol' painful back an' knee, Laws-a-mussy, dey ain't me! I'm well, praise Gord, dis mornin'!"
RUTH McENERY STUART.
Daddy's Weather Prayer 3
The Old Rooster 4
The Butterfly 5
The Wren 6
The Watermelon 7
The Gourd 8
Judge Owl 9
The Mosquito 10
The Game-Cock 12
The Epicure 13
The Mule 14
The Grubworm 15
Rain or Shine 16
Little Green Tree-Toad 17
The Fly 19
The Little Chicken 20
The Scare-Crow 21
The Yellow Rose 22
The Ambitious Cow 23
Tried by Fire 24
Jack O' Lantern 25
The Flea 26
Will o' the Wisp 27
The Mole 28
The Runt 29
The Monkey 30
The Aristocrat 31
The Crawfish 32
The Angleworm 33
The Chimney-Swallow 34
Catching Doodle-Bugs 35
The Porcupine 36
The Parrot 38
The Rattle-Snake 39
The Persimmon 40
In Harness 41
The Canary 42
Answering Back 43
Dat's De Way My Lady'll Do 44
The Mammy Alligator 46
The New Rich 47
The Wibbly Wabbly Calf 48
The Turkey-Gobbler 50
The Cauliflower 51
The Step-Mother 52
The Frog 53
The Rat 54
The Mocking-Bird 55
The Mushroom 56
The Measuring Worm 57
The Top-Knot Hen 58
Too Familiar 59
The 'Possum 60
The Owl 61
The Chameleon 62
The Caterpillar 63
Dr. Drake 64
The Peacock 65
The Alligator 66
The Terrapin 67
The Dandelion 68
The Cud 69
The Mirror 70
The Pet 72
The Guinea-Hen 73
The Moon 74
The Hen-Roost Man 75
A Guilty Conscience 76
The Bat 77
Incubator Chickens 78
The Firefly 79
The Thistle 80
The Gray Squirrel 81
Look Out for Mister Bee 82
The Rose 83
The Locomotive 84
The Goat 85
The Fig 86
The Frizzled Chicken 87
The Endless Song 88
The Eel 90
The Rain-Crow 91
The Giraffe 92
The Black Sheep 93
The Prize-Winner 94
The Dog 95
DADDY DO-FUNNY'S WISDOM JINGLES
DADDY'S WEATHER PRAYER
One asks for sun, an' one for rain, An' sometimes bofe together; I prays for sunshine in my heart, An' den forgits de weather.
THE OLD ROOSTER
Ef de hoa'se ol' rooster wouldn't crow so loud He mought pass for yo'ng in de barn-yard crowd; But he strives so hard an' he steps so spry Dat de pullets all winks whilst he marches by. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Sis' Butterfly aimed to work all right, But 'er wings dey was heavy, an' 'er head too light; So she riz in de air, 'ca'ze she see she was made Jes' to fly in de sun in de beauty parade. An' she ain't by 'erself in dat, in dat— An' she ain't by 'erself in dat.
She's a citizen-bird, Sis little brown Wren, She nests in de spring an' de fall again; "Race suicide" talk nuver fazes her, 'Ca'ze she's good for 'er ten little wrens a year. An' she ain't by 'erself, my ladies, in dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Oh, Watermilion sho' is good to eat! But de darkie rates it twice-t mo' sweet, 'Ca'ze it's ap' to b'long to de yether man, An' it's mighty hard to lif' by sleight o' han'. An' it ain't by itself, made sweet like dat— No, it ain't by itself like dat.
De green gou'd on de sunny shed Was mighty proud of his pethy head, So he nuver pondered or studied or trained, An' now he's ol' an' rattle-brained. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Jedge Owl 's so pompious on 'is limb, You'd s'pose dey was nobody roun' but him; He's afeard ef he was too polite You'd ax 'im whar he spent de night. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Wid so much Christian blood in 'is veins, You'd think Br'er 'Skitty would take some pains To love 'is neighbor an' show good will, But he's p'izenin' an' back-bitin' still. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dat whale wha' gulped Br'er Jonah down Was bleeged to swim close-t to de groun' Ontel he riz up an' confessed He'd swallered mo' 'n he could digest. But you ain't by yo'self, Br'er Whale, in dat— No, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
Dey's some things square an' some things round, An' little game cocks ain't sol' by de pound; Dey's weighed by sand an' pluck an' grit An' de number o' dead dey leave in de pit. An' dey ain't by deyselves in rank like dat— No, dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
Ef you keep yo' eyes on Br'er Carrion Crow, You'll wonder huccome he kin carry on so! He flies in high circles an' chooses meat Dat no honest workin'-man would eat. An' he ain't no new high-flyer in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Ef you quiz Br'er Mule, you'll find dat he Gits mixed on de subjec' of 'is fam'ly tree; He'll brag about 'is mammy with a noble neigh, An' deny 'is own daddy wid a ginuine bray. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Grubworm wrops 'isself in twine An' swings in 'is shroud on a evergreen vine, Becaze it's mortal death dat brings His on'iest chance to git 'is wings. But you ain't by yo'self, Br'er Worm, in dat— Oh, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
RAIN OR SHINE?
Ol' Mingo, on 'is knees, he say: "Lord, teach dis nigger how to pray, Else riconcile two kinds o' weather For craps an' rheumatiz together!" But you ain't by yo'self, ol' man, in dat— Oh, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
LITTLE GREEN TREE-TOAD
Little green tree-toad on banana leaf, Plenty po' relations all aroun' 'im in de bog; But he'd ruther be blind an' dumb an' deef Dan to hold a conversation wid a "low-life" frog! But he ain't no lonesome toady in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dey say dem Sparrers come crost de seas To eat our surplus grubs an' fleas; But dey's whupped our birds off'n dis plantation, Tell we craves to constric' dey immigration. An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat, in dat— An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
Wid dem suctious foots, seem lak Br'er Fly Mought draw down health ef he trod de sky; But he's so onpartic'lar whar he roams Dat he's got 'isself screened out o' quality homes. An' he ain't by 'isself outcas' like dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
THE LITTLE CHICKEN
Little yaller fluff-ball, one day out, Steps mighty high while he picks all about; Never sees de egg-shell layin' in 'is track, Much less the little piece stickin' on 'is back. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Scare-crow's built to suit 'is job Wid flappin' legs an' arms dat bob; He ain't got brains for discontent So he works widout no argument. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
THE YELLOW ROSE
Dey's a sweet plantation, yaller-buff rose Dat in my ricollection grows; In my ol' dreams she seems to wait Whar she stood an' bloomed by de love-vine gate An' I ain't by myself in dreams like dat— No, I ain't by myself in dat.
THE AMBITIOUS COW
Sis' Twis'-horn Brindle is a bothersome cow, She's boun' to raise a ruction an' she don't keer how; She craves to be de bell-cow an' lead off wid a clang, So it's all a man kin do to make 'er gallup wid de gang. An' she ain't by 'erself in dat, in dat— An' she ain't by 'erself in dat.
TRIED BY FIRE
De sugar-cane stands so proud an' smart, You'd nuver suspicion it sweet at de heart, But to prove its sweets it yields its will To be tried by fire an' ground in de mill. An' it ain't by itself in dat, in dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat.
Sence he los' 'is brains to git 'is smile, Brer Jack-o-lantern grins lak a wilderin' chile Widout no secrets out or in; An' de lighter in de head de broader 'is grin An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Look out for Mr. Po'-trash Flea! Ef you let 'im come in, he'll make too free; He'll chase yo' dog till he makes 'im pant, An' he'll take yo' skin for a restaurant. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
WILL O' THE WISP
Ef de Wul o' de Wust would cuss an' swear An' take some shape, an' rip an' tear, It wouldn't sen' col' chills down a nigger's spine Like de changeable expression of a mystery shine. An' it ain't by its ghostly self in dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat.
De blind mole tunnels straight ahead, An' he gits whar he gwine wid a trustful tread, But he nuver is yit got nowhar else, An' he'll nuver view de skies whar glory melts. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
You'll sometimes trace de loudes' grunt In de horg-lot down to de littles' runt, Lak as ef he'd 'nounce whilst he gulps 'is swill, "A pompious horg is as big as 'is will." An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
De organ plays an' Br'er Monkey struts, An' he takes high pride in de capers he cuts, While folks draps picayunes into 'is han' For fallin' so short o' bein' a man. An' he ain't by 'isself, misled like dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dat three-name chicken wid de feathery legs Wha' 'merged f'om de ten dollar settin' of eggs, Is a lonesome bird an' I s'picion he frets 'Ca'ze he can't outgrow dem pantalettes. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Crawfish th'ows a racklass bluff, An' he sho do look like fightin' stuff; But turn 'im loose on a battle-groun', An' he'll bow 'isself out, an' nuver turn roun'. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
"I could stand de hook," says de angleworm, "An' a lily-brook wouldn't make me squirm, But I can't help wrigglin' ag'in' my fate; It breaks me all up to be used for bait." An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Wid 'is nest in de flue whar de suctions blow, Storms due above an' fire below, No wonder Br'er Swaller sags an' sways Like a pusson ableeged to dodge bofe ways. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Little picaninnies, fishin' in de doodle-bug holes. Wid a "spit for luck," an' straws for poles, Show pyore delight in de fisherman's aim All disp'opo'tioned to de game. An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat, in dat— An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
Sis' Porcupine, wid 'er bristles all set In a pompado' style, is waitin' yet, An' she can't understan', whilst she puckers 'er mug, De sca'city o' kisses an' de absent hug. But she ain't by 'er lonesome self in dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Dem Ants is sho' got savin' ways An' even de Scripture 'lows 'em praise; But dey hoa'ds for deyselves f'om day to day An' dey stings any man wha' gits in de way. An' dey ain't no new co'poration in dat— No, dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
Sis' Tin-cage Polly wid de roamin' nose Dat roams f'om 'er eyes tel it p'ints to 'er toes, She keeps up a ratlin' talkin' pace To turn off attention f'om de shape of 'er face. An' you ain't by yo'self, Sis' Polly, in dat— No, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
Br'er Rattle-snake rattles befo' he springs, But he warns too late to 'scape 'is stings; His high-class manners don't count for much 'Ca'ze dey grafted on to a sarpent's touch. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Is you little gals, growin' into women, Ever tasted a snappy young persimmin? It takes a hard frost to make it sweet, An' it's ol' an' swiveled 'fo' it's fit to eat! But it ain't by itself, sharp chillen, in dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat.
Dat flee-bitten mule an' my bay mare In de hay-wagon, sho is a mixtious pair; But dey's pulled so long th'ough wind an' weather Dat out in de field dey graze together. An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat, in dat— An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
De little yaller cage-bird preems 'is wings An' he mounts 'is pyerch an' sings an' sings; He feels 'is cage, but I s'pec' he 'low To take what comes an' sing anyhow! An' you ain't by yo'self, little bird, in dat— No, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
Br'er Pole-cat's got a s'ciety smile An' he sho is dressed in scrumptious style, But he keeps 'is own hat off de quality rack By de scan'lous way he answers back. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
DAT'S DE WAY MY LADY'LL DO
It ain't how many eyes you got, 'Les' needles could see an' potatoes, too; An' "hookin' a' eye," as like as not, Would be classed as a sin dat no lady'd do. But it's keepin' yo' eyes turned to'des de right, An' to'des de wrong jes' shettin' 'em tight— Lookin' out for ways to be polite— Dat's de way my lady'd do!
It ain't how many ears you got Dat makes you listen an' learn an' do; Else a hill o' corn in a garden plot Would be 'way ahead o' me an' you; But it's shettin' yo' ears to heartless speech, An' listenin' whilst de teachers teach, An' strivin' to practise mo' 'n to preach— Dat's de way my lady'll do!
It ain't how many tongues you got, 'Les' shoes would talk an' wagons, too; An' all de bells would gabble a lot, An' tattle an' brag de long day th'ough; But it's gyardin' yo' tongue f'om talk dat's wrong, An' passin' a helpful word along, An' maybe singin' a hopeful song— Dat's de way my lady'll do!
THE MAMMY ALLIGATOR
Said de mammy alligator, wid a motherly grin: "I nuver liked babies wid dey dimples tucked in, But our little pet, wid its horny hide, Like its mammy's an' its daddy's, is de fam'ly pride." An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat, in dat— An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
THE NEW RICH
Sis' Mush A. Roon sprung up over night An' to name whar she sprung f'om ain't polite; But she spreads 'erself wuss'n me or you, An' wid on'y one foot to stan' on, too. An she ain't by er new-come self in dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
THE WIBBLY WABBLY CALF
Cunnin' little donkey-baby— "Ye-haw! Ye-haw!" What a funny laugh! Soun' jes like a creaky, cranky Seesaw—seesaw! Wasn't nothin' funny roun' dat We saw—we saw! 'Tel we glimpsed de stagger-gait dat He saw—he saw! Brindle strikin' swagger-gait when She saw—she saw—her wibbly wabbly calf!
Den we j'ined wid Mister Donkey, "He-haw! He-haw!" How we-all did laugh! But we laughed at some'h'n' mo' dan He saw—he saw! Donkey couldn't see de ears dat We saw—we saw! Rabbit lopin' down de road, we Three saw—three saw! Wagged his ears an' called him daddy! "Haw-haw! Haw-haw!" How dat—who dat laugh? An' de last to see de joke was wibbly wabbly calf!
Ol' Gobbly struts aroun' de stable An' th'ows out hints o' de rich man's table, An' he h'ists his tail an' spreads it wide, To display his cuyus graveyard pride. But he ain't by 'isself in pride like dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
When de cabbage got ambitiom, in a uppish hour An' lost 'is head an' bu'st into flower Wid 'is brains outside, an addled, at dat— He sot 'isself up for a 'ristocrat. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Sis' Dominick follers her brood o' ducks To de bayou's edge, an' she clucks an' clucks: 'Dis stepmammy job, oh me, oh me! Ain't all dat it's quacked up to be!" But she ain't by 'erself in dat, in dat— But she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Ol' Br'er Frog ain't much to sing, But he clairs a log in a single spring, An' jedgin' 'im by his bigoty ways, He's clean forgot 'is tadpole days! But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Rat in de corn-bin over-fed An' under-worked, an' now he's dead; He craved to live lak a bloated chief, An' now he ain't nothin' but a ol' dead thief. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er mockin'-bird sings in de live-oak shade, A secon'-hand chant or a serenade; He'll take off a pa'tridge, a robin, or a jay, But he'd nuver make a name no other way. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dey's many a musharoon good to de tas'e An' rich for de table, dat goes to was'e 'Ca'ze folks don't dast to gether it in For de way it favors its dung-hill kin. An' it ain't by itself condemned like dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat
THE MEASURING WORM
When Br'er Measurin'-worm strikes out so brave, Makin' tend he kin measure you for yo grave, Wid all 'is stride an' all 'is stren'th He can't measure mo'n 'is own little len'th. An' he ain't by 'isself made cheap like dat— No, he ain't by 'isself like dat.
THE TOP-KNOT HEN
Hit's a proper pride in Sis' Top-knot's breast Dat makes 'er step to march 'er crest; Yit jalousy follers 'er 'roun' de shed On de count o' dat innercent tufted head. An' she ain't by 'erself pursued lak dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
De cantelope gits mighty bilious F'om runnin' wid punkins too familias, So it's banished out for its sociable sin Along wid its yaller kitchen kin. An' it ain't by itself in dat, in dat— An' it ain't by itself in dat.
Br'er 'Possum makes pertend he's dead Whilst shots goes whizzin' over 'is head. But time de hounds is out o' sight, He's up an' "hongry for a fight!" An' he ain't by 'isself in a bluff like dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
When de big owl calls out "Who—ooo—ooo—!!!!!" In de dark o' de moon, like night-owls do, De chillen, a-beggin' to play out late, Come tumblin' back into Daddy's gate. An' dey ain't by deyselves in dat, in dat— No, dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
De camelia-lizard is a turn-coat man, An' he borries his colors where dey's "room to stan'"; He mought keep solid as a county candidate, But you couldn't sca'cely find 'im on a map o' de State. But he ain't by 'isself lost out, like dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Whilst she eats de groun' f'om onder 'er feet, Sis' Caterpillar's weavin' 'er windin'-sheet; But 'er red eyes shine an' 'er grass-green-hair, An' 'er short life's bright, so she don't care. An' she ain't by 'erself in dat, in dat— An' she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Ol' Dr. Drake wid 'is college waddle An' Latin inscriptioms on 'is noddle, Would part wid 'is gait an' 'is shimmerin' back To perscribe a crowin'-powder an' nuver say "Quack!" But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Peacock 'lows he's a 'ristocrat, Wid mighty fine clo'es, an' vain at dat; He'll answer yo' glance wid col' surprise An' look you over wid a thousan' eyes! But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Alligator kin grin a mile, But dey ain't no inducemint in his smile; Whilst he ain't no race-horse, yit dey say A little alligator goes a mighty long way. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Tarrapin draws in 'is head so knowin', You can't tell whether he's comin' or goin', But his mind ain't mixed—he's layin' low Tel he sees which way he's obleeged to go. An' he ain't no new politician in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
De dandelion flower blooms out so young Wid a look in its face like a sassy tongue, Den it grows light-headed wid self-conceit Wid a flighty ol' age, for full defeat. An' it ain't by itself, pert chillen, in dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat.
"Life's give an' take," Sis' Cow, she laugh. So I gives my milk an' dey takes my calf." An' when contentment's hard to fin', She chaws 'er cud to ease 'er min'. And you ain't by yo'self, Sis' Cow, in dat— No, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
Br'er Donkey, drinkin' at de brook, Surveys hisself wid offish look, An' 'low: "You Jackass makes too free! Huccome you dast to drink wid me!" An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— Oh, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
De purty yaller goslin's say: "Oh, what—oh, what's de use! When Mama say, 'Come, walk dis way An' ac' jes like a goose!' Oh, what's de use—oh, what's de use? I's boun' to grow a noddle, Like every goosey, goosey, goose, An' waddle, waddle, waddle!
"But Mama say: 'Don't talk dat way! Come, waddle like a mild goose, F'om side to side, wid proper pride— Not like a woodsy wild goose! Dey's plenty use—dey's plenty use! Come, git yo' education! See how to waddle an' tote yo' noddle Accordin' to yo' station!'"
De little white chicken dat's petted too much Gits stunted in growth f'om de sp'ilin' touch. An' she'll nuver make a hen so brave an' good As ef she went a-pickin', an' worked wid de brood. An' she ain't by 'erself in dat, in dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Sis' Guinea, in proud week-day clo'es Forgits how she was hatched outdo's; Wid 'er red boot chicks, she cuts a dash, An' calls 'er neighbors "Po' trash! Po' trash!" But she ain't by 'erself in dat— But she ain't by 'erself in dat.
Dey say Sis' Moon daresn't shine at night Cep'n by Marse Sun's allowance o' light, An' whilst he's away whar de yether moons are She don't even dast to wink at a star. An' she ain't de onies' wife like dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
THE HEN-ROOST MAN
De Hen-roost Man he'll preach about Paul, An' James an' John, an' Herod, an' all, But nuver a word about Peter, oh, no! He's afeard he'll hear dat rooster crow. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
A GUILTY CONSCIENCE
Dat little yaller pup 's got so many lickin's For pesterin' all de ducks an' chickens, Dat whenever he hears any barn-yard strife, He looks over his shoulder an' runs for 's life. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— No, he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Bat flaps out in de gloomin' dark, An' even ef he's boun' for a harmless lark, He favors de devil an' he keeps sech hours Dat he seems in cahoot wid de evil powers. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dem inkybator chickens dat's hatched by de clock, Wid a lamp for love, is lonesome stock; Dey feeds in droves, but dey envies de others Dat scratches for grubs wid any ol' mothers. An' dey ain't by deyselves, po' orphans, in dat— No, dey ain't by deyselves in dat.
Br'er Lightnin'-bug is a gay yo'ng spark, But he nuver is yit put out de dark; He shines for 'isself in 'is zigzag flight, An' he's middlin' sho he's de sou'ce of light. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
De thistle-stalk sends up a noble bloom Wid de shape of a flower an' de thought of a plume, But its prickle-y ways turn friendship down; So it stands all alone, in its velvet gown. An' it ain't by its lonesome self in dat— No, it ain't by itself in dat.
THE GRAY SQUIRREL
De gray squir'l lives a nachel life, Wid friends an' foes an' chillen an' wife; But whenever he gits his picture took, He snatches dat nut, to appear in de book. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
LOOK OUT FOR MISTER BEE
Look out for Mister Bee in de punkin-flower! Plenty gallinippers in de grass! Mighty close tie 'twix' wings an' stings Better let de honey-bee pass! Z—Z—Z, Z, Z! Better let de honey-bee pass!
White-face bumblebee—white folks' ways— Never give a sassy answer back! But don't you trus' de black-face, no matter what he says! Give de nigger bumblebee de track! Z—Z—Z, Z, Z! Give de nigger bumblebee de track!
When Sis' Rose th'ows open her heart too proud, She blooms mighty brief in Beauty's crowd; 'Ca'ze the rains beat in an' de bees make free 'Tel de heart o' de rose is sad to see. An' you ain't by yo'self, Sis' Rose, in dat— No, you ain't by yo'self in dat.
Dey say Sis' Ingine's fiercest scream Don't mean nothin' but lettin' off steam, But wid so much wrackage behin' 'er back, Seem like she say: "Git out o' my track!" An' she ain't by 'erself, old Mis, in dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
No matter how much she strive to 'spire, Sis' Nannie Goat's measured 'g'inst some'h'n' higher; "First cousin to a sheep" an' "de po' man's cow," Is hol'-down luck, come when, come how. An' she ain't by 'erself helt down like dat— No, she ain't by 'erself in dat.
De fig dat's "sweet enough to eat" Is sweet enough, but not too sweet; But de honey-lip fig in de blazin' light Is a battle-ground whar de varmints fight. An' it ain't by itself in dat, in dat— An' it ain't by itself in dat.
THE FRIZZLED CHICKEN
Dat frizzledy chicken, he steps so spry, An' he totes 'is head so pompious high, Like as ef he tries, wharever he goes, To rise above dem rough-dried clo'es. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
THE ENDLESS SONG
Oh, I used to sing a song, An' dey said it was too long, So I cut it off de en' To accommodate a frien' Nex' do', nex' do'— To accommodate a frien' nex' do'.
But it made de matter wuss Dan it had been at de fus, 'Ca'ze de en' was gone, an' den Co'se it didn't have no en' Any mo', any mo'— Oh, it didn't have no en' any mo'!
So, to save my frien' from sinnin', I cut off de song's beginnin'; Still he cusses right along Whilst I sings about my song Jes so, jes so— Whilst I sings about my song jes so.
How to please 'im is my riddle, So I'll fall back on my fiddle; For I'd stan' myself on en' To accommodate a frien' Nex' do', nex' do'— To accommodate a frien' nex' do'.
Br'er Eel got a mighty jewbious name, But maybe he ain't so much to blame; He couldn't squirm out ef he nuver ventured in, An' he resks his all when he resks his skin. But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Rain-crow sho kin prophesy, Caze he reads his wisdom f'om de page on high; His mind ain't clogged wid secon'-hand facts, But de moon an' de skies is his almanacs. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Br'er Gy-raffe don't make no pertense O' not seein' over 'is neighbor's fence, An' ef he'd listen close-t, I 'spec' He'd hear somebody say: "Rubber-neck!!!" But he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— But he ain't by 'isself in dat.
THE BLACK SHEEP
De black sheep says, "Oh, what's de use To shun de mire an' de muddy sluice? For whether I walks for praise or blame, Dey'll call me 'black sheep,' jes de same!" An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
Dat Berkshire horg in de blue ribbon pen Come home wid de heavy-weight prize again; He looks mighty pompious in 'is stall, But he's on'y a fat horg, after all. An' he ain't by 'isself in dat, in dat— An' he ain't by 'isself in dat.
I can't talk dog an' he can't talk man, Yit Rover an' me, we onderstan'; I wag my tongue an' he wags 'is tail, An' Love explains whar grammars fail. An' we ain't by ourselves in dat, in dat— No, we ain't by ourselves in dat.
* * * * * *
 The guinea-fowl strays away from home and makes her nest in the fields. The newly hatched guinea-chicks are beautiful, dainty things, with coral-colored feet which look very fine. The guinea's cry, loud and harsh, sounds like "Potterack!" or "Poor trash!"
 The white-faced bee does not sting.