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Poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar

An Ante-Bellum Sermon

  We is gathahed hyeah, my brothahs,
    In dis howlin' wildaness,
  Fu' to speak some words of comfo't
    To each othah in distress.
  An' we chooses fu' ouah subjic'
    Dis--we'll 'splain it by an' by;
    "An' de Lawd said, 'Moses, Moses,'
    An' de man said, 'Hyeah am I.'"

  Now ole Pher'oh, down in Egypt,
    Was de wuss man evah bo'n,
  An' he had de Hebrew chillun
    Down dah wukin' in his co'n;
  'T well de Lawd got tiahed o' his foolin',
    An' sez he: "I' ll let him know--
  Look hyeah, Moses, go tell Pher'oh
    Fu' to let dem chillun go."

  "An' ef he refuse to do it,
    I will make him rue de houah,
  Fu' I'll empty down on Egypt
    All de vials of my powah."
  Yes, he did--an' Pher'oh's ahmy
    Wasn't wuth a ha'f a dime;
  Fu' de Lawd will he'p his chillun,
    You kin trust him evah time.

  An' yo' enemies may 'sail you
    In de back an' in de front;
  But de Lawd is all aroun' you,
    Fu' to ba' de battle's brunt.
  Dey kin fo'ge yo' chains an' shackles
    F'om de mountains to de sea;
  But de Lawd will sen' some Moses
    Fu' to set his chillun free.

  An' de lan' shall hyeah his thundah,
    Lak a blas' f'om Gab'el's ho'n,
  Fu' de Lawd of hosts is mighty
    When he girds his ahmor on.
  But fu' feah some one mistakes me,
    I will pause right hyeah to say,
  Dat I 'm still a-preachin' ancient,
    I ain't talkin' 'bout to-day.

  But I tell you, fellah christuns,
    Things'll happen mighty strange;
  Now, de Lawd done dis fu' Isrul,
    An' his ways don't nevah change,
  An' de love he showed to Isrul
    Was n't all on Isrul spent;
  Now don't run an' tell yo' mastahs
    Dat I's preachin' discontent.

  'Cause I isn't; I'se a-judgin'
    Bible people by deir ac's;
  I 'se a-givin' you de Scriptuah,
    I 'se a-handin' you de fac's.
  Cose ole Pher'oh b'lieved in slav'ry,
    But de Lawd he let him see,
  Dat de people he put bref in,--
    Evah mothah's son was free.

  An' dahs othahs thinks lak Pher'oh,
    But dey calls de Scriptuah liar,
  Fu' de Bible says "a servant
    Is a-worthy of his hire."
  An' you cain't git roun' nor thoo dat,
    An' you cain't git ovah it,
  Fu' whatevah place you git in,
    Dis hyeah Bible too 'll fit.

  So you see de Lawd's intention,
    Evah sence de worl' began,
  Was dat His almighty freedom
    Should belong to evah man,
  But I think it would be bettah,
    Ef I'd pause agin to say,
  Dat I'm talkin' 'bout ouah freedom
    In a Bibleistic way.

  But de Moses is a-comin',
    An' he's comin', suah and fas'
  We kin hyeah his feet a-trompin',
    We kin hyeah his trumpit blas'.
  But I want to wa'n you people,
    Don't you git too brigity;
  An' don't you git to braggin'
    'Bout dese things, you wait an' see.

  But when Moses wif his powah
    Comes an' sets us chillun free,
  We will praise de gracious Mastah.
    Dat has gin us liberty;
  An' we 'll shout ouah halleluyahs,
    On dat mighty reck'nin' day,
  When we 'se reco'nised ez citiz'--
    Huh uh! Chillun, let us pray!

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar's other poems:
  1. The Master-Player
  2. Whittier
  3. The Rising of the Storm
  4. Not They Who Soar
  5. Promise

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