“O Mammy, have you heard the news?”
Thus spake a Southern child,
As in the nurse's aged face
She upward glanced and smiled.
"What news you mean, my little one?
It must be mighty fine,
To make my darlin's face so red,
Her sunny blue eyes shine."
"Why, Abr'am Lincoln, don't you know,
The Yankee President,
Whose ugly picture once we saw,
When up to town we went?
"Well, he is goin' to free you all,
And make you rich and grand,
And you'll be dressed in silk and gold,
Like the proudest in the land.
"A gilded coach shall carry you
Where'er you wish to ride;
And, mammy, all your work shall be
Forever laid aside."
The eager speaker paused for breath,
And then the old nurse said,
While closer to her swarthy cheek
She pressed the golden head:
"My little missus, stop and res'
You' talkin' mighty fas';
Jes' look up dere, and tell me what
You see in yonder glass?
"You sees old mammy's wrinkly face,
As black as any coal;
And underneath her handkerchief
Whole heaps of knotty wool.
"My darlin's face is red and white,
Her skin is soff and fine,
And on her pretty little head
De yallar ringlets shine.
"My chile, who made dis difference
'Twixt mammy and 'twixt you?
You reads de dear Lord's blessed book,
And you can tell me true.
"De dear Lord said it must be so;
And, honey, I, for one,
Wid tankful heart will always say,
His holy will be done.
"I tanks Mas' Linkum, all de same,
But when I wants for free,
I'll ask de Lord of glory,
Not poor buckra man like he.
"And as for gilded carriages,
Dey's notin' 'tall to see;
My massa's coach, what carries him,
Is good enough for me.
"And, honey, when your mammy wants
To change her homespun dress,
She'll pray, like dear old missus,
To be clothed with righteousness.
"My work's been done dis many a day,
And now I takes my ease,
A waitin' for de Master's call,
Jes' when de Master please.
"And when at Ias' de time's done come,
And poor old mammy dies,
Your own dear mother's soff white hand
Shall close these tired old eyes.
"De dear Lord Jesus soon will call
Old mammy home to him,
And he can wash my guilty soul
From ebery spot of sin.
"And at his feet I shall lie down,
Who died and rose for me;
And den, and not till. den, my chile,
Your mammy will be free.
"Come, little missus, say your prayers;
Let old Mas' Linkum 'lone;
The debil knows who b'longs to him,
And he'll take care of his own."
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Page updated 05/25/2006.