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SONGS ABOUT ANIMALS                      197
which goes on for some length- And there is the round about the rooster who would persist in crowing before day — an annoying enough habit, as anyone will concede. Too, there is the guinea, who appeared in the lullaby where "the guinea's on her nest." I have heard snatches of an entertaining barnyard song chanted by an old Negro in Abilene, where the rooster crows, "Preacher's cbmin* to­morrow!" and the other fowls respond characteristically; but I have not been able to get it.
So catholic are the Negro's interests in nature that he sees rhyme-worthy inspiration even in reptiles, from which most poets shudder away. True, Milton mentions one serpent of distinction, but on account of his diabolic nature, which raised him to dignity. He did not write of the snake as a snake. Now, the darky can appre­ciate the essential reptilian qualities and respect the cleverness of even the picaresque rattler. There is one memorable rattlesnake that writhes its way through many variants of an old quatrain, as in the second stanza of a song given by Elizabeth Dickinson, of Bir­mingham, Alabama.
There Was an Old Nigger, His Name Was Dr. Peck
There was an old Nigger, his name was Dr. Peck; He fell in de well an' broke his neck. De cause ob de fall was all his own, 'Case he orter look atter de sick An' let de well alone I
You shall be free, mourners,
You shall be free,
When de good Lawd set you free.
As I was goin' through de old cornfield, A rattlesnake bit me on de heel. I turned right round for to run my best, An' run my head right in a hornet's nest.
The bullfrog, too, springs into notice in these old folk-songs. Various basso stanzas announce his personality and actions, as the one given by Anne Gilmer, of Orange, Texas, which was learned from Negro nurses.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III