De Little Pickaninny's Gone to Sleep

James Weldon Johnson 1871 (Jacksonville) – 1938 (Wiscasset)



Cuddle down, ma honey, in yo' bed,
Go to sleep an' res' yo' little head,
Been a-kind o' ailin' all de day?
Didn't have no sperit fu' to play?
Never min'; to-morrer, w'en you wek,
Daddy's gwine to ride you on his bek,
'Roun' an' roun' de cabin flo' so fas'—
Der! He's closed his little eyes at las'.

De little pickaninny's gone to sleep,
Cuddled in his trundle bed so tiny,
De little pickaninny's gone to sleep,
Closed his little eyes so bright an' shiny.
Hush! an' w'en you walk across de flo'
Step across it very sof' an' slow.
De shadders all aroun' begin to creep,
De little pickaninny's gone to sleep.

Mandy, w'at's de matter wid dat chile?
Keeps a-sighin' ev'y little w'ile;
Seems to me I heayhd him sorter groan,
Lord! his little han's am col' as stone!
W'at's dat far-off light dat's in his eyes?
Dat's a light dey's borrow'd f'om de skies;
Fol' his little han's across his breas',
Let de little pickaninny res'.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

Modified on March 05, 2023

58 sec read
50

Quick analysis:

Scheme aabbccdd EfEfggeE fghhdddd
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 906
Words 172
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8

James Weldon Johnson

James Weldon Johnson was an American author, educator, lawyer, diplomat, songwriter, and early civil rights activist. Johnson is best remembered for his leadership within the NAACP as well as for his writing, which includes novels, poems, and anthologies. He was also the first African-American professor at New York University. Later in life he was a professor of creative literature and writing at Fisk University. more…

All James Weldon Johnson poems | James Weldon Johnson Books

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