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Lyrics of Love and Laughter

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The Turning of the Babies in the Bed

Additional Information
  • Year Published: 1913
  • Language: English
  • Country of Origin: United States of America
  • Source: Dunbar, P.L. (1913). The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company.
  • Readability:
    • Flesch–Kincaid Level: 6.5
  • Word Count: 455

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Woman’s sho’ a cur’ous critter, an’ dey ain’t no doubtin’ dat.
She’s a mess o’ funny capahs f’om huh slippahs to huh hat.
Ef you tries to un’erstan’ huh, an’ you fails, des’ up an’ say:
“D’ ain’t a bit o’ use to try to un’erstan’ a woman’s way.”

I don’ mean to be complainin’, but I ’s jes’ a–settin’ down
Some o’ my own obserwations, w’en I cas’ my eye eroun’.
Ef you ax me fu’ to prove it, I ken do it mighty fine,
Fu’ dey ain’t no bettah ‘zample den dis ve’y wife o’ mine.

In de ve’y hea’t o’ midnight, w’en I ’s sleepin’ good an’ soun’,
I kin hyeah a so’t o’ rustlin’ an’ somebody movin’ ‘roun’.
An’ I say, “Lize, whut you doin’?” But she frown an’ shek huh haid,
“Heish yo’ mouf, I’s only tu’nin’ of de chillun in de bed.

“Don’ you know a chile gits restless, layin’ all de night one way?
An’ you’ got to kind o’ ‘range him sev’al times befo’ de day?
So de little necks won’t worry, an’ de little backs won’t break;
Don’ you t’ink case chillun ’s chillun dey hain’t got no pain an’ ache.”

So she shakes ‘em, an’ she twists ‘em, an’ she tu’ns ‘em ‘roun’ erbout,
‘Twell I don’ see how de chillun evah keeps f’om hollahin’ out.
Den she lif’s ‘em up head down’ards, so’s dey won’t git livahgrown,
But dey snoozes des’ ez peaceful ez a liza’d on a stone.

W’en hit’s mos’ nigh time fu’ wakin’ on de dawn o’ jedgment day,
Seems lak I kin hyeah ol’ Gab’iel lay his trumpet down an’ say,
“Who dat walkin’ ‘roun’ so easy, down on earf ermong de dead?”—
‘T will be Lizy up a–tu’nin’ of de chillun in de bed.