Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
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James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
 
Black Mammies
 
John Wesley Holloway
 
 
IF Ah evah git to glory, an’ Ah hope to mek it thoo,
Ah expec’ to hyah a story, an’ Ah hope you’ll hyah it, too,—
Hit’ll kiver Maine to Texas, an’ f’om Bosting to Miami,—
Ov de highes’ shaf’ in glory, ’rected to de Negro Mammy.
 
You will see a lot o’ Washington, an’ Washington again;        5
An’ good of Fathah Lincoln, tow’rin’ ’bove de rest o’ men;
But dar’ll be a bunch o’ women standin’ hard up by de th’one,
An’ dey’ll all be black an’ homely,—’less de Virgin Mary’s one.
 
Dey will be de talk of angels, dey will be de praise o’ men,
An’ de whi’ folks would go crazy ’thout their Mammy folks again        10
If it’s r’ally true dat meekness makes you heir to all de eart’,
Den our blessed, good of Mammies must ’a’ been of noble birt’.
 
If de greates’ is de servant, den Ah got to say o’ dem,
Dey’ll be standin’ nex’ to Jesus, sub to no one else but Him;
If de crown goes to de fait’ful, an’ de palm de victors wear,        15
Dey’ll be loaded down wid jewels more dan anybody dere.
 
She’d de hardes’ road to trabel evah mortal had to pull;
But she knelt down in huh cabin till huh cup o’ joy was full;
Dough’ of Satan tried to shake huh f’om huh knees wid scowl an’ frown,
She jes’ “clumb up Jacob’s ladder,” an’ he nevah drug huh down.        20
 
She’d jes’ croon above de babies, she’d jes’ sing when t’ings went wrong,
An’ no matter what de trouble, she would meet it wid a song;
She jes’ prayed huh way to heaben, findin’ comfort in de rod;
She jes’ “stole away to Jesus,” she jes’ sung huh way to God!
 
She “kep’ lookin’ ovah Jurdan,” kep’ “a-trustin’ in de word,”        25
Kep’ a-lookin’ fo “de char’et,” kep’ “a-waitin’ fo’ de Lawd,”
If she evah had to quavah of de shadder of a doubt,
It ain’t nevah been discovahed, fo’ she nevah sung it out;
 
But she trusted in de shadder, an’ she trusted in de shine,
An’ she longed fo’ one possession: “dat heaben to be mine”;        30
An’ she prayed huh chil’en freedom, but she won huhse’f de bes’,—
Peace on eart’ amids’ huh sorrows, an’ up yonder heabenly res’!
 

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