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Negro Folk Rhymes Wise and Otherwise: With a Study   By:

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Transcriber's Note: Other than the minor corrections and changes listed at the end of this text, all spelling and punctuation is as it appeared in the original. Musical notations appearing in the original book have been replaced with [music]. The placement of footnote markers was irregular in the original this has been retained.

NEGRO FOLK RHYMES

[Publisher's Device]

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY NEW YORK · BOSTON · CHICAGO · DALLAS ATLANTA · SAN FRANCISCO

MACMILLAN & CO., Limited LONDON · BOMBAY · CALCUTTA MELBOURNE

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, Ltd. TORONTO

NEGRO FOLK RHYMES Wise and Otherwise

WITH A STUDY

BY THOMAS W. TALLEY, OF FISK UNIVERSITY

[Decoration]

New York THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 1922

All rights reserved

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Copyright, 1922, By THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. Set up and printed. Published January, 1922.

Press of J. J. Little & Ives Company New York, U.S.A.

INTRODUCTION

Of the making of books by individual authors there is no end; but a cultivated literary taste among the exceptional few has rendered almost impossible the production of genuine folk songs. The spectacle, therefore, of a homogeneous throng of partly civilized people dancing to the music of crude instruments and evolving out of dance rhythm a lyrical or narrative utterance in poetic form is sufficiently rare in the nineteenth century to challenge immediate attention. In Negro Folk Rhymes is to be found no inconsiderable part of the musical and poetic life records of a people; the compiler presents an arresting volume which, in addition to being a pioneer and practically unique in its field, is as nearly exhaustive as a sympathetic understanding of the Negro mind, careful research, and labor of love can make it. Professor Talley of Fisk University has spared himself no pains in collecting and piecing together every attainable scrap and fragment of secular rhyme which might help in adequately interpreting the inner life of his own people.

Being the expression of a race in, or just emerging from bondage, these songs may at first seem to some readers trivial and almost wholly devoid of literary merit. In phraseology they may appear crude, lacking in that elegance and finish ordinarily associated with poetic excellence; in imagery they are at times exceedingly winter starved, mediocre, common, drab, scarcely ever rising above the unhappy environment of the singers. The outlook upon life and nature is, for the most part, one of imaginative simplicity and child like naïveté; superstitions crowd in upon a worldly wisdom that is elementary, practical, and obvious; and a warped and crooked human nature, developed and fostered by circumstances, shows frequently through the lines. What else might be expected? At the time when these rhymes were in process of being created the conditions under which the American Negro lived and labored were not calculated to inspire him with a desire for the highest artistic expression. Restricted, cramped, bound in unwilling servitude, he looked about him in his miserable little world to see whatever of the beautiful or happy he might find; that which he discovered is pathetically slight, but, such as it is, it served to keep alive his stunted artist soul under the most adverse circumstances... Continue reading book >>




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