Little Brown Baby

Original Text: 
The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1913), Facsimile in The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar, ed. Joanne M. Braxton (Charlottesville and London: University Press of Virginia, 1993), pp. 134-35. PS 1556 AI 1993 Robarts Library.
1Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes,
2  Come to yo' pappy an' set on his knee.
4  Look at dat bib -- you's es du'ty ez me.
5Look at dat mouf -- dat's merlasses, I bet;
6  Come hyeah, Maria, an' wipe off his han's.
7Bees gwine to ketch you an' eat you up yit,
8  Bein' so sticky an sweet -- goodness lan's!
9Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes,
10  Who's pappy's darlin' an' who's pappy's chile?
11Who is it all de day nevah once tries
12  Fu' to be cross, er once loses dat smile?
13Whah did you git dem teef? My, you's a scamp!
14  Whah did dat dimple come f'om in yo' chin?
15Pappy do' know you -- I b'lieves you's a tramp;
16  Mammy, dis hyeah's some ol' straggler got in!
17Let's th'ow him outen de do' in de san',
18  We do' want stragglers a-layin' 'roun' hyeah;
20  I know he's hidin' erroun' hyeah right neah.
21Buggah-man, buggah-man, come in de do',
22  Hyeah's a bad boy you kin have fu' to eat.
23Mammy an' pappy do' want him no mo',
24  Swaller him down f'om his haid to his feet!
25Dah, now, I t'ought dat you'd hug me up close.
26  Go back, ol' buggah, you sha'n't have dis boy.
27He ain't no tramp, ner no straggler, of co'se;
28  He's pappy's pa'dner an' play-mate an' joy.
29Come to you' pallet now -- go to yo' res';
30  Wisht you could allus know ease an' cleah skies;
31Wisht you could stay jes' a chile on my breas'--
32  Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes!

Notes

3] san': sand.
you's es du'ty ez me: you's as dirty as me Back to Line
19] buggah-man: bogey man. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1896
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.