Negro Folk Rhymes Wise & Otherwise - online book

A detailed study of Negro folk music, includes lyrics & sheet music samples.

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tual count more than a hundred and fifty recorded by the writer have something in their stanzas con­cerning some animal. I do not think the makers of these Rhymes were makers of Nature Rhymes in the ordinary sense of the term. It would really be more to the point to call them "Animal Rhymes" instead of "Nature Rhymes." With the exception of about a half dozen Rhymes which mention some kind of tree or plant, all the other Rhymes with Nature allusions pertain to animals. The Uncle Remus stories recorded by Joel Chandler Harris are prac­tically all animal stories. I have said in my fore­going discussion that the Negro communed with Na­ture and she gave him Rhymes for amusement. This is true, but when we say "communed" we simply ex­press a vague intangible something the existence of which lives somewhere in a kind of mental fiction.
Though I was brought up with the Rhymes I make no pretensions that I really know why so many of them were made concerning the animal world. I have heard no Negro tradition on this point. I have thought much on it and I now beg the reader to walk with me over the peculiar paths along which my mind has swept in its search for the truth of this mystery of Animal Rhyme.
Before the great American Civil War the Negro