Frances Ellen Watkins Harper | Poet and Abolitionist
Thanks to Poem-a-Day for introducing me to Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s poetry. And thanks to Black History Month for bringing it to mind. My comments follow.
Aunt Chloe’s Politics
Of course, I don’t know very much
About these politics,
But I think that some who run ’em
Do mighty ugly tricks.
I’ve seen ’em honey-fugle round,
And talk so awful sweet,
That you’d think them full of kindness,
As an egg is full of meat.
Now I don’t believe in looking
Honest people in the face,
And saying when you’re doing wrong,
That “I haven’t sold my race.”
When we want to school our children,
If the money isn’t there,
Whether black or white have took it,
The loss we all must share.
And this buying up each other
Is something worse than mean,
Though I thinks a heap of voting,
I go for voting clean.
First published by Ferguson Brothers in Sketches of Southern Life (1891), now in the public domain
Published online by Poem-a-Day on 23 June 2019, by the Academy of American Poets
“Honey fugle” means to deceive by flattery or sweet talk, to swindle or cheat. Click here to see the full definition.
I love Aunt Chloe’s straightforward language. Rigged voting machines and gerry-mandering didn’t begin yesterday. Nor did pie-in-the sky promises and ‘street money’ handed out to influence our votes. As Aunt Chloe points out, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is if the money isn’t there to fund those lovely promises. Everyone loses, no matter the color of our skin.
Aunt Chloe nailed it decades ago. Her words are presented in a no-nonsense voice that invites us to believe her and do something about it. Maybe it’s as simple as getting off our political bandwagons and taking a look at ourselves.
So….The next time you hear politicians making promises too good to be true, think of a flugel horn (profuse apologies to lovers of flugel horns). It may sound sweet and mellow. Nonetheless, sweet music and stars in our eyes won’t buy groceries, pay for medical bills, or turn manipulation into truth. Instead, the cost will continue falling on all of us.
© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 February 2020
Image found at Wikipedia.org