The Negro Baby's Funeral by Will Carleton

I was walking in Savannah, past a church decayed and dim,
When there slowly through the windows came a plaintive funeral hymn;
And the sympathy awakened, and a wonder quickly grew,
Till I found myself environed in a little negro pew.
Out at front a coloured couple sat in sorrow, nearly wild;
On the altar was a coffin, in the coffin was a child.
I could picture him when living—curly hair, protruding lip—
And had seen perhaps a thousand in my hurried Southern trip.
But no baby ever rested in the soothing arms of death
That had fanned more flames of sorrow with his little fluttering breath;
And no funeral ever glistened with more sympathy profound
Than was in the chain of teardrops that enclasped those mourners round.
Rose a sad, old coloured preacher at the little wooden desk—
With a manner grandly awkward, with a countenance grotesque;
With simplicity and shrewdness on his Ethiopian face;
With the ignorance and wisdom of a crushed, undying race.
And he said: "Now, don' be weepin' for dis pretty bit o' clay—
For de little boy who lived dere, he's done gone an' run away!
He was doin' very finely, an' he 'preciate your love;
But his sure 'nuff Father want him in de large house up above.
"Now, he didn't give you that baby, by a hundred thousan' mile!
He just think you need some sunshine, an' He lent it for a while!
An' He let you keep an' love it till your hearts were bigger grown;
An' dese silver tears your sheddin's jest de interes' on the loan.
"Here's yer oder pretty childrun!—doan' be makin' it appear
Dat your love got sort o' 'nopolised by dis little fellow here;
Don' pile up too much your sorrow on dere little mental shelves,
So's to kind 'o set 'em wonderin' if dey're no account demselves.
"Just you think, you poor deah mounahs, creepin' long o'er Sorrow's way,
What a blessed little pic-nic dis yere baby's got to-day!
Your good faders and good moders crowd de little fellow round
In de angel-tended garden ob de big Plantation Ground.
"An' dey ask him, 'Was your feet sore?' an' take off his little shoes,
An' dey wash him, an' dey kiss him, an' dey say—'Now what's de news?'
An' de Lawd done cut his tongue loose, den de little fellow say—
'All our folks down in the valley tries to keep de hebbenly way.'
"An' his eyes dey brightly sparkle at de pretty things he view;
Den a tear come an' he whispers—'But I want my parents too!'
But de Angel Chief Musician teach dat boy a little song—
Says 'If only dey be fait'ful dey will soon be comin' 'long.'
An' he'll get an' education dat will proberbly be worth
Seberal times as much as any you could buy for him on earth;
He'll be in de Lawd's big schoolhouse, widout no contempt or fear;
While dere's no end to the bad tings might have happened to him here.
"So, my pooah dejected mounahs, let your hearts wid Jesus rest,
An' don't go to critercisin' dat ar One w'at knows the best!
He have sent us many comforts—He have right to take away—
To the Lawd be praise an' glory now and ever! Let us pray!"