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Lyrics of Love and Laughter

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Black Samson of Brandywine

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: 320

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“In the fight at Brandywine, Black Samson, a giant negro armed witha scythe, sweeps his way through the red ranks….”

C. M. Skinner’s
“Myths and Legends of Our Own Land.”

Gray are the pages of record,
Dim are the volumes of eld;
Else had old Delaware told us
More that her history held.
Told us with pride in the story,
Honest and noble and fine,
More of the tale of my hero,
Black Samson of Brandywine.

Sing of your chiefs and your nobles,
Saxon and Celt and Gaul,
Breath of mine ever shall join you,
Highly I honor them all.
Give to them all of their glory,
But for this noble of mine,
Lend him a tithe of your tribute,
Black Samson of Brandywine.

There in the heat of the battle,
There in the stir of the fight,
Loomed he, an ebony giant,
Black as the pinions of night.
Swinging his scythe like a mower
Over a field of grain,
Needless the care of the gleaners,
Where he had passed amain.

Straight through the human harvest,
Cutting a bloody swath,
Woe to you, soldier of Briton!
Death is abroad in his path.
Flee from the scythe of the reaper,
Flee while the moment is thine,
None may with safety withstand him,
Black Samson of Brandywine.

Was he a freeman or bondman?
Was he a man or a thing?
What does it matter? His brav’ry
Renders him royal—a king.
If he was only a chattel,
Honor the ransom may pay
Of the royal, the loyal black giant
Who fought for his country that day.

Noble and bright is the story,
Worthy the touch of the lyre,
Sculptor or poet should find it
Full of the stuff to inspire.
Beat it in brass and in copper,
Tell it in storied line,
So that the world may remember
Black Samson of Brandywine.