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SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS 165
My old mistis promised me When she died she'd set me free. She lived so long, she died so po', She lef' 01' Sambo pullin' at de hoe.
The refrain is that of an old song which Professor Kittredge informs me was sung on the minstrel stage and occurs in various old song-books, for example, "The Negro Forget-Me-Not Songster," pp. 185, 186.
A theme that recurs in varying stanzas of these old songs is the comparison of the physical make-up of different animals, as well as of their distinctive traits. Sometimes, as in the one following, the Negro makes satiric comparison of his economic status with that of the white man, Mrs. E. H. Ratclifle, of Natchez, Mississippi, sent me this:
Old Bee Make de Honeycomb
Raccoon totes de bushy hair;
Possum he go bare; Rabbit comes a-skippin' by,
'Cause he ain't got none to spare.
Raccoon hunts in broad daylight;
Possum hunts in dark, An' no thin' never disturbs his rnin',
Till he hears old Bingo bark.
I met Bro. Possum in de road;
"Bre'r Possum, whar you gwine?" "Thank you, kin' sir," said he,
"I'm a-huntin' muscadine."
Old Bee make de honeycomb, Young Bee makes all de honey.
Nigger makes de cotton and corn, White man gits all de money.
Monday mornin' break o' day
White folks got me gwine. Saturday night when de sun go down,
Dat yaller girl am mine.
Another song including this idea is I Went to My Sweetheart's House, sent by Virginia Fitzgerald, of Virginia, who had heard it from people familiar with it before the war. It was used as a banjo tune.