Paul Laurence Dunbar

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Oak and Ivy (1893)

Oak and Ivy

To Her Who has ever been My guide, Teacher, and Inspiration My Mother, This little volume is affectionately inscribed.

First published by Press of United Brethren Publishing House: Dayton, OH

Copyright 1893

My Sort o' Man

I don't believe in 'ristercrats
An' never did, you see;
The plain ol' homelike sorter folks
Is good enough fur me.
O' course, I don't desire a man
To be too tarnal rough,
But then I think all folks should know
When they air nice enough.

Now, there is folks in this here world,
From peasant up to king,
Who want to be so awful nice
They overdo the thing.
That's jest the thing that makes me sick,
An' quicker than a wink
I set it down that them same folks
Ain't half so good's you think.

I like to see a man dress nice,
In clothes becomin', too;
I like to see a woman fix
As women orter do;
An' boys an' gals I like to see
Look fresh an' young an' spry,
We all must have our vanity
An' pride before we die.

But I jedge no man by his clothes,--
Nor gentleman nor tramp;
The man that wears the finest suit
May be the biggest scamp,
An' he whose limbs are clad in rags
That make a mournful sight,
In life's great battle may have proved
A hero in the fight.

I don't believe in 'ristercrats;
I like the honest tan
That lies upon the healthful cheek
An' speaks the honest man;
I like to grasp the brawny hand
That labor's lips have kissed,
For he who has not labored here
Life's greatest pride has missed,--

The pride to feel that yo'r own strength
Has cleaved fur you the way
To heights to which you were not born,
But struggled day by day.
What though the thousands sneer an' scoff,
An' scorn yo'r humble birth?
Kings are but subjects; you are king
By right o' royal worth.

The man who simply sits an' waits
Fur good to come along,
Ain't worth the breath that one would take
To tell him he is wrong.
Fur good ain't flowin' round this world
Fur ev'ry fool to sup;
You've got to put yo'r see-ers on,
An' go an' hunt it up.

Good goes with honesty, I say,
To honor an' to bless
To rich an' poor alike it brings
A wealth o' happiness.
The 'ristercrats ain't got it all,
Fur much to their su'prise,
That's one of earth's most blessed things
They can't monopolize.

This poem appears in the following book(s):

Lyrics of the Hearthside, Oak and Ivy

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