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Humour and Dialect

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Angelina

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: 528

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When de fiddle gits to singin’ out a ol’ Vahginny reel,
An’ you ‘mence to feel a ticklin’ in yo’ toe an’ in yo’ heel;
Ef you t’ink you got ‘uligion an’ you wants to keep it, too,
You jes’ bettah tek a hint an’ git yo’self clean out o’ view.
Case de time is mighty temptin’ when de chune is in de swing,
Fu’ a darky, saint or sinner man, to cut de pigeon–wing.
An’ you could n’t he’p f’om dancin’ ef yo’ feet was boun’ wif twine,
When Angelina Johnson comes a–swingin’ down de line.

Don’t you know Miss Angelina? She ’s de da’lin’ of de place.
W’y, dey ain’t no high–toned lady wif sich mannahs an’ sich grace.
She kin move across de cabin, wif its planks all rough an’ wo’;
Jes’ de same ’s ef she was dancin’ on ol’ mistus’ ball–room flo’.
Fact is, you do’ see no cabin—evaht’ing you see look grand,
An’ dat one ol’ squeaky fiddle soun’ to you jes’ lak a ban’;
Cotton britches look lak broadclof an’ a linsey dress look fine,
When Angelina Johnson comes a–swingin’ down de line.

Some folks say dat dancin ’s sinful, an’ de blessed Lawd, dey say,
Gwine to punish us fu’ steppin’ w’en we hyeah de music play.
But I tell you I don’ b’lieve it, fu’ de Lawd is wise and good,
An’ he made de banjo’s metal an’ he made de fiddle’s wood,
An’ he made de music in dem, so I don’ quite t’ink he ‘ll keer
Ef our feet keeps time a little to de melodies we hyeah.
W’y, dey’s somep’n’ downright holy in de way our faces shine,
When Angelina Johnson comes a–swingin’ down de line.

Angelina steps so gentle, Angelina bows so low,
An’ she lif huh sku’t so dainty dat huh shoetop skacely show:
An’ dem teef o’ huh’n a–shinin’, ez she tek you by de han’—
Go ‘way, people, d’ ain’t anothah sich a lady in de lan’!
When she ’s movin’ thoo de figgers er a–dancin’ by huhse’f,
Folks jes’ stan’ stock–still a–sta’in’, an’ dey mos’ nigh hol’s dey bref;
An’ de young mens, dey ’s a–sayin’, “I ’s gwine mek dat damsel mine,”
When Angelina Johnson comes a–swingin’ down de line.