Lo! in the east, the harvest moon
Peeps cautious o’er the heaven’s rim,
Half trembling lest she be too soon,
And in the sun’s bold kisses dim.
What sees the moon as she doth roam
This upper world with fairy tread?
She sees the humble harvest home.
The patient toiler making bread.
Before the spacious barn up-piled,
Beholds the heap of yellow corn;
Just as if Ceres, when she smiled,
Has dropped it from her golden horn.
All day the toiling hands have wrought
To rob the hillsides of their store;
All day the creaking wains have brought
Great loads before the barn-house door.
Now laughter loud and carols sound
Adown the green moon-lighted lane;
The darkies all, for miles around,
Haste in to husk the waiting grain.
They fling themselves upon the corn,
And tear apart, with gibe and jest,
The silken robes that do adorn
The ripened beauty of the breast.
Into the barn whose cob-webbed beams
Suggest the plenteous crops of yore,
The corn flows on in steady streams,
And heaps itself upon the floor.
Behold, enthroned upon the heap,
The just that hold the soul of corn!
How every darkey’s heart doth leap
While kissing off the drinking-horn.
Cheered by the draught that tickles brains,
Wild grow the corn songs of the south,
And fast the precious shower rains,
And merry every ample mouth.
The idle youngsters dance around,
Their antics shadowed by the moon;
And Tom, to swell the banjo’s sound,
Strums on it like a frantic loon.
Broad Mirth that almost shuts the eyes,
And draws the mouth from ear to ear,
With Banter ’round the circle flies,
For both are in their kingdom here.
There roaring loud is grinning Jake,
Rejoicing in his station snug;
Who, ever, like a cunning snake,
Keeps inching towards the brandy jug.
Obstrep’rous grows the din and fills
With gleeful sounds the sloping plain;
And watch-dogs, on the distant hills,
Bark as they hear the mad refrain.
Your work is done and you are dry;
Drink, since your thirst has so increased,
And lift the good old master high,
And bear him to the harvest feast.
The corn your deft hands shucked tonight
May pink my lady’s finger tips,
May fill her chastened eyes with light,
And bloom anew upon her lips.
Now, simple, merry souls, adieu;
You’ve had enough of our good cheer;
The moon wades westward thru’ the blue,
And sound the morning chanticleer.
Go, lest an angry master chide
That you have stayed away too long;
Go, while the dew is yet undried,
and wake the woodlands with your song.
— W.T. Dumas
The Atalanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jul 10, 1887