Tuesday, March 22, 2011

W'en Dey 'Listed

This video is Mitch Capel's rendition of the poem, W'en Day 'Listed boy Paul Laurence Dunbar. The poem tells the story from the point of view of loved one of a United States Colored Troops soldier.


By Paul Laurence Dunbar Dey was talkin' in de cabin, dey was talkin' in de hall; But I listened kin' o' keerless, not a-t'inkin' 'bout it all; An' on Sunday, too, I noticed, dey was whisp'rin' mighty much, Stan'in' all erroun' de roadside w'en dey let us out o' chu'ch. But I did n't t'ink erbout it 'twell de middle of de week, An' my 'Lias come to see me, an' somehow he could n't speak. Den I seed all in a minute whut he 'd come to see me for;-- Dey had 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias gwine to wah. Oh, I hugged him, an' I kissed him, an' I baiged him not to go; But he tol' me dat his conscience, hit was callin' to him so, An' he could n't baih to lingah w'en he had a chanst to fight For de freedom dey had gin him an' de glory of de right. So he kissed me, an' he lef me, w'en I 'd p'omised to be true; An' dey put a knapsack on him, an' a coat all colo'ed blue. So I gin him pap's ol' Bible f'om de bottom of de draw',-- W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias went to wah. But I t'ought of all de weary miles dat he would have to tramp, An' I could n't be contented w'en dey tuk him to de camp. W'y my hea't nigh broke wid grievin' 'twell I seed him on de street; Den I felt lak I could go an' th'ow my body at his feet. For his buttons was a-shinin', an' his face was shinin', too, An' he looked so strong an' mighty in his coat o' sojer blue, Dat I hollahed, "Step up, manny," dough my th'oat was so' an' raw,-- W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias went to wah. Ol' Mis' cried w'en mastah lef huh, young Miss mou'ned huh brothah Ned, An' I did n't know dey feelin's is de ve'y wo'ds dey said W'en I tol' 'em I was so'y. Dey had done gin up dey all; But dey only seemed mo' proudah dat dey men had hyeahed de call. Bofe my mastahs went in gray suits, an' I loved de Yankee blue, But I t'ought dat I could sorrer for de losin' of 'em too; But I could n't, for I did n't know de ha'f o' whut I saw, 'Twell dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias went to wah. Mastah Jack come home all sickly; he was broke for life, dey said; An' dey lef my po' young mastah some'r's on de roadside,--dead. W'en de women cried an' mou'ned 'em, I could feel it thoo an' thoo, For I had a loved un fightin' in de way o' dangah, too. Den dey tol' me dey had laid him some'r's way down souf to res', Wid de flag dat he had fit for shinin' daih acrost his breas'. Well, I cried, but den I reckon dat 's whut Gawd had called him for, W'en dey 'listed colo'ed sojers an' my 'Lias went to wah. The Complete Poems of Paul Laurence Dunbar


  1. Thank you for sharing this video. Beautifully expressed the feelings of the men and their loved ones.

  2. BRAVO! BRAVO! Thank you for posting this wonderful civil war history performance. I throughly enjoyed watching.

    Best Regards,

  3. Thanx for posting the video...This guy is an awesome actor! He needs to be at EVERY event that is taking place for the 150 year anniversary of the civil war! (Just FYI...Paul Dunbar's middle name is spelled "Laurence" with a "u", not a "w"...)