Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
De Drum Majah
Ray G. Dandridge
HE’S struttin’ sho ernuff,
Wearin’ a lady’s muff
En’ ways erpon his head,
Red coat ob reddest red,
Purtty white satin ves’,        5
Gole braid ercross de ches’;
Goa’ness! he cuts a stunt,
Prancin’ out dar in frunt,
    Leadin’ his ban’.
Wen dat ah whistle blows,        10
Each man behine him knows
’Zacklee whut he mus’ do;
You bet! he dues it, too.
Wen dat brass stick he twirls,
Ole maids an’ lub-sick gurls        15
Looks on wid longin’ eyes,
Dey simpley idolize
    Dat han’sum man.
Sweet fife an’ piccalo,
Bofe warblin’ sof’ an’ lo’,        20
Slide ho’n an’ saxophones,
Jazz syncopated tones,
Snare drum an’ lead cornet,
Alto an’ clarinet,
Las’, but not least, dar cum        25
Cymbals an’ big bass drum—
    O! whut a ban’!
Cose, we all undahstan’
Each piece he’ps maik de ban’,
But dey all mus’ be led,        30
Sum one mus’ be de head
No doubt, de centipede
Has all de laigs he need,
But take erway de head,
Po’ centipede am dead;        35
    So am de ban’.


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