Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI, by BENJAMIN FRANKLIN KING



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DOWN THE MISSISSIPPI, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Oh, de ole plantation landin'
Last Line: To de lonesomeness -- dat's all.
Alternate Author Name(s): King, Ben
Subject(s): African Americans; Mississippi River; Plantation Life; Rivers; Negroes; American Blacks


OH, de ole plantation landin',
On de Mississippi sho',
'Pears es if I seed ole massa
Standin' waitin' dar once mo' --
Back aways to whar de cabin's
Almos' hid by lilac trees --
Seems es ef I h'yard po' missus
Singin' old-time melodies.

Hollyhocks en honeysuckles
Grow en bloom along de way,
Leadin' up dar to de cabin;
But de ole folks, whar are dey?
An' de winin' path a-leadin'
Roun' de house; sometimes, a spell,
Seems es ef I h'yard de win'less
H'istin' watah f'om de well.

Cap'n, kain yo' stop de boat, sah?
Stop de boat, kase well I know
I has done gone down dis rivah
'Bout es far's hi keah ter go.
You kin lan' me soon's yo's ready,
En I 'low I'll fin' mah way
Back to dat ole shattah'd homestead
Whar de sun shines froo to-day.

Massa Lincoln's gunboats let' it
Jais dat way in sixty-three;
Cose dey did some monsus damage,
But dey set us dahkies free.
How I 'membah po' ole missus
Standin' n'yah de cabin do'
En she say: "Yo' gwine off, 'Rasmus?
Ain' yo' gwine come back no mo'?"

Den I sade: "Not zackly, missus;
Somepin's done ketched ontah me.
Dar's a big stampede ob darkies
From Kaintuck en Tennessee.
When de boat comes up de ribbah
Whistlin' 'roun' de lower bow
I mus' leebe de ole plantation --
Yas, must say good-bye en go."

Massa so't o' bowed his haid, sah,
Sittin' in 'is ole-ahm-chair;
Missus, standin' on de do'step
Caught de sunlight in her hair;
An' de breezes from de orchard
'Peared to rustle froo de trees,
En I h'yard old Judy weepin'
Wid de chillun 'roun' her knees.

Tale yo' I was mighty sad, sah,
But I sort o' walked away.
Years en years ago it was, sah;
Now I'se wanderin' back to-day.
'Deed I'se lookin' back en gazin'
Mos'ly now each side de stream.
Lan'marks gittin' mighty natch'l,
'Clar hit 'pears jais like a dream.

Dar's de place! Dat's hit, dar, cap'n,
Dis yere side de ole ho'n bow;
'Low yo' needn't stop de steamah;
Jais slack up a leetle -- slow.
* * * * *
Dar's de same ole steps a-climbin'
F'om de landin' to de hill.
Lan' ob goodness! Ef de bushes
Ain't a-growin' thickah still.

In de lan' ob de forgotten;
Not a soul along de hill;
Not a voice to wake yo' gladness;
Everything do 'pear so still;
Not an echo to a footstep;
Not an ansah to a call
'Sep' a mockin'-bird a-singin'
To de lonesomeness -- dat's all.





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