Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TUNK (A LECTURE ON MODERN EDUCATION), by JAMES WELDON JOHNSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TUNK (A LECTURE ON MODERN EDUCATION), by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Look heah, tunk!-now, ain't dis awful!
Last Line: Place in school!
Subject(s): Education; Writing & Writers

Look heah, Tunk! — Now, ain't dis awful!
T'ought I sont you off to school.
Don't you know dat you is growin' up to be a
reg'lah fool?

Whah's dem books dat I's done bought you?
Look heah, boy, you tell me quick,
Whah's dat Webster blue-back spellah an' dat
bran' new 'rifmatic?

W'ile I'm t'inkin' you is lahnin' in de school,
why bless ma soul!
You off in de woods a-playin'. Can't you do like
you is tole?

Boy, I tell you, it's jes scan'lous d'way dat you
is goin' on.
An' you sholy go'n be sorry, jes as true as you
is bo'n.

Heah I'm tryin' hard to raise you as a credit to
dis race,
An' you tryin' heap much harder fu' to come up
in disgrace.

Dese de days w'en men don't git up to de top
by hooks an' crooks;
Tell you now, dey's got to git der standin'
on a pile o' books.

W'en you sees a darkey goin' to de fiel' as soon
as light,
Followin' a mule across it f'om de mawnin' tel
de night,

Wukin' all his life fu' vittles, hoein' 'tween de
cott'n rows,
W'en he knocks off ole an' tiah'd, ownin' nut'n
but his clo'es,

You kin put it down to ignunce, aftah all what's
done an' said,
You kin bet dat dat same darkey ain't got nut'n
in his head.

Ain't you seed dem w'ite men set'n in der
awfice? Don't you know
Dey goes der 'bout nine each mawnin'? Bless
yo' soul, dey's out by fo'.

Dey jes does a little writin'; does dat by some
easy means;
Gals jes set an' play piannah on dem printin'
press muchines.

Chile, dem men knows how to figgah, how to
use dat little pen,
An' dey knows dat blue-back spellah f'om be-
ginnin' to de en'.

Dat's de 'fect of education; dat's de t'ing what's
gwine to rule;
Git dem books, you lazy rascal! Git back to yo'
place in school!

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