(Article/content is below...)

Little Brown Baby by Paul Laurence Dunbar


"Little Brown Baby" is a poem written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. This poem is best known for Dunbar's use of slang in writing. The first stanza sets the tone. A child sits on his father's lap and has molasses on his face. The father says that he'll get eaten by bees for being so sweet. The poem goes on with the father joking about the son and his chin dimple and teeth. The father continues to joke with him and asks for a hug. Essentially, the poem is about black life together at home and how sweet it is.

"Little Brown Baby" is made up of four stanzas with eight lines in each. It has the rhyme scheme ABABCDCD. The lines are indented to keep formation and rhythm but still have a different rhythm than the other lines.


Little Brown Baby

Little brown baby wif spa'klin eyes,
  Come to yo' pappy an' set on his knee.
What you been doin', suh -- makin' san' pies?
  Look at dat bib -- you's ez du'ty ez me.
Look at dat mouf -- dat's merlasses, I bet;
  Come hyeah, Maria, an' wipe off his han's.
Bees gwine to ketch you an' eat you up yit,
  Bein' so sticky an' sweet -- goodness lan's!

Little brown baby wif spa'klin eyes,
  Who's pappy's darlin' an' who's pappy's chile?
Who is it all de day nevah once tries
  Fu' to be cross, er once loses dat smile?
Whah did you git dem teef? My, you's a scamp!
  Whah did dat dimple come f'om in yo' chin?
Pappy do' know yo -- I b'lieves you's a tramp;
  Mammy, dis hyeah's some ol' straggler got in!

Let's th'ow him outen de do' in de san',
  We do' want stragglers a-layin' 'roun' hyeah;
Let's gin him 'way to de big buggah-man;
  I know he's hidin' erroun' hyeah right neah.
Buggah-man, buggah-man, come in de do',
  Hyeah's a bad boy you kin have fu' to eat.
Mammy an' pappy do' want him no mo',
  Swaller him down f'om his haid to his feet!

Dah, now, I t'ought dat you'd hug me up close.
  Go back, ol' buggah, you sha'n't have dis boy.
He ain't no tramp, ner no straggler, of co'se;
  He's pappy's pa'dner an' playmate an' joy.
Come to you' pallet now -- go to yo' res;
  Wisht you could allus know ease an' cleah skies;
Wisht you could stay jes' a chile on my breas' --
  Little brown baby wif spa'klin' eyes.

Next: Sympathy
Last update: