Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, UNCLE JIM'S BAPTIST REVIVAL HYMN, by SIDNEY LANIER



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UNCLE JIM'S BAPTIST REVIVAL HYMN, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Sin's rooster's crowed, ole mahster's riz
Subject(s): Baptists


[Not long ago a certain Georgia cotton-planter, driven to
desperation by awakening each morning to find that the grass had quite outgrown
that the grass had quite outgrown the cotton overnight, and
was likely to choke it, in defiance of his lazy freedmen's hoes and ploughs,
set the whole State in a laugh by exclaiming to a group of fellow-sufferers:
"It's all stuff about Cincinnatus leaving the plough to go into politics for
patriotism; he was just a-runnin' from grass!"
This state of things -- when the delicate young rootlets of
the cotton are struggling against the hardier multitudes of the grass-suckers
-- is universally described in plantation parlance by the phrase
"in the grass;" and Uncle Jim appears to have found it in so much similarity
to the condition of his own ("Baptis'") church, overrun, as it was, by the
cares of this world, that he embodied it in the refrain of a revival hymn
such as the colored improvisator of the South not infrequently constructs from
his daily surroundings. He has drawn all the ideas of his stanzas
from the early morning phenomena of those critical weeks when the loud
plantation-horn is blown before daylight, in order to rouse all hands for a
long day's fight against the common enemy of cotton-planting mankind.
In addition to these exegetical commentaries, the Northern
reader probably needs to be informed that the phrase "peerten up" means
substantially to spur up, and is an active form of the adjective
"peert" (probably a corruption of pert), which has much the significance of
"smart" in New England, as e.g., a "peert" horse, in antithesis to a
"sorry" -- i.e., poor, mean, lazy one.]

Solo. -- Sin's rooster's crowed, Ole Mahster's riz,
De sleepin'-time is pas';
Wake up dem lazy Baptissis,
Chorus. -- Dey's mightily in de grass, grass,
Dey's mightily in de grass.
Ole Mahster's blowed de mornin' horn
He's blowed a powerful blas';
O Baptis' come, come hoe de corn,
You's mightily in de grass, grass,
You's mightily in de grass.

De Meth'dis team's done hitched; O fool,
De day's a-breakin' fas';
Gear up dat lean ole Baptis' mule,
Dey's mightily in de grass, grass,
Dey's mightily in de grass.
De workmen's few an' mons'rous slow,
De cotton's sheddin' fas';
Whoop, look, jes' look at de Baptis' row,
Hit's mightily in de grass, grass,
Hit's mightily in de grass.
De jay-bird squeal to de mockin'-bird: "Stop!
Don' gimme none o' yo' sass;
Better sing one song for de Baptis' crop,
Dey's mightily in de grass, grass,
Dey's mightily in de grass."
And de ole crow croak: "Don' work, no, no;"
But de fiel'-lark say, "Yaas, yaas,
An' I spec' you mighty glad, you debblish crow,
Dat de Baptissis's in de grass, grass,
Dat de Baptissis's in de grass!"
Lord, thunder us up to de plowin'-match,
Lord, peerten de hoein' fas',
Yea, Lord, hab mussy on de Baptis' patch,
Dey's mightily in de grass, grass,
Dey's mightily in de grass.
1876.





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