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The Ballad of the Brown Girl: An Old Ballad Retold, by Countee Cullen, With Illustrations and Decorations by Charles Cullen. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1927.


Copyright © 1927 Harper & Brothers


OH, THIS is the tale the grandams tell

In the land where the grass is blue,

And some there are who say'tis false,

And some that hold it true.

Lord Thomas on a summer's day

Came to his mother's door;

His eyes were ringed for want of sleep;

His heart was troubled sore.

He knelt him at his mother's side;

She stroked his curly head.

"I've come to be advised of you;

Advise me well," he said.

"For there are two who love me well—

I wot it from each mouth—

And one's Fair London, lily maid,

And pride of all the south.

"The other one who loves you well,

Is she as sweet and fair?"

"She is the dark Brown Girl who knows

No more-defining name,

And bitter tongues have worn their tips

In sneering at her shame."