Negress in Notre Dame
By Robert W. Service (1874–1958)
When 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.