Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Farmer’s Soliloquy

“Oh! for a thousand tongues to sing
   My great Redeemer’s praise:
The glories of my Lord and King,
   The triumphs of His grace.”

Oh! for a thousand cedar posts
   To fence my garden ’round.
To hinder the neighbors’ pigs and goats
   From rooting up my potato ground.

Oh! for a thousand hickory rails,
   To make my fence secure;
A thousand patent locks and keys,
   To lock my stable door.

Oh! for a thousand bricks and stones,
   To build my chimney higher,
To keep the neighbors’ boys and girls
   From putting out my fire.

Oh! for a thousand old shot guns,
   That I might be a match,
For all the tramps that I can find
   In my watermelon patch.

Oh! for a thousand pumpkin seeds,
   To plant for my son John;
He says that pumpkin pies are good
   When the winter time comes on.

Oh! for a thousand cribs of corn,
   Filled chuck up to the beam;
And a thousand pails that’s good and strong,
   To keep the milk and cream.

Oh! for a thousand turnip bads,
   Placed all into a row;
Lord! please send a little rain,
   To make the ’tatoes grow.

Oh! for a thousand tongues to ask
   My maker, who’s on high,
To keep my smoke-house filled with meal,
   Fat bacon, rock and rye.

Now, Lord, I close my humble prayer,
   Which (to some) may seem a vision;
Numbers ask for all I’ve named,
   Whilst few ask for religion.

Robert Charles O’Hara Benjamin

Born in St. Kitts, Robert Charles O’Hara Benjamin (1855–1900) came to the United States as a teenager following the Civil War. Primarily known as a lawyer and a journalist he was often the first African-American lawyer to practice law in each of the jurisdictions that he practiced in. Benjamin was also a political activist who sought racial equality and wrote a number of books on race relations.

One of the books he wrote was a slender volume of poetry in 1883 titled Poetic Gems from which Farmer's Soliloquy is included. Benjamin was murdered in Lexington, Kentucky on October 2, 1900 trying to register black voters. His killer, Michael Moynihan, was set free under the pretense of justifiable homicide.

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