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N is for Negress in Notre Dame

Negress in Notre Dame

By Robert W. Ser­vice (1874–1958)

NegressWhen I attended Mass today
A colored maid sat down by me,
And as I watched her kneel and pray,
Her rev­er­ence was good to see.
For whether there may be or no’
A mer­ci­ful and mighty God,
The love for Him is like a glow
That glo­ri­fies the mean­est clod.

And then a starched and snotty dame
Who sat the other side of me
Said: “Mon­sieur, is it not a shame
Such things should be allowed to be?
In my home­land, I’m proud to say,
We know to han­dle nig­gers right,
And wouldn’t let a black wench pray
And wor­ship God beside a white.”

Her tone so tart bewil­derd me,
For I am just a sim­ple man.
A friend in everyone I see,
Though yel­low, brown or black and tan.
For I would father chil­dren five
With any comely colored maid,
And lush with any man alive,
Of any race, of any shade.

Reli­gion may be false or true,
The Churches may be wrong or right,
But if there be the Faith in you
It can be like a shin­ing light.
And though I lack not piety
And pray my best, I’m sure that God
To that black wench and not to me
Would give his most approv­ing nod.

Aye, you may scrub him day and night,
You’ll never change a nigger’s hide;
But maybe he is just as white,
(Or even more) than you…inside.

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