A Negro Girl's Prose Poem (1889)
The Library of Congress has a fairly impressive newspaper search availabe at Chronicling America. You can search some ridiculous number of publications from 1836 - 1922. I'm not sure why it's available for those specific years, but I suspect that's more from my not paying attention than anything else.
The thing is, it's strangely addictive to just search various words or names and see what you find. Last year, while looking for some information on Black involvement in the first Oklahoma land run, I came across this article. I've since found it printed in several different papers, all around Spring or early Summer of 1889. It grabs me and breaks me every time.
She Wrote A Poem.
It Was Real Poetry, Too, Although It Didn't Rhyme.
In attendance at one of the Indianapolis ward schools is a little colored girl nine years old. She is miserable, indeed, for at home she is ill-treated and the shoes she wears, and often the clothes, are supplied by the teachers or some of her classmates. There is a tender poetic vein in her makeup, and it found vent in a composition.
The teacher took a little pansy plant to school one day and told the pupils of the flower. Two days after she asked them to write a poem of it and gave them the privilege of having the pansy talk and tell the story, and this, according to the Indianapolis Journal, is what the little girl wrote, the word pansy in the copy being the only one dignified with a capital:
"I am only a Pansy. My home is in a little brown house. I sleep in my little brown house all winter, and I am now going to open my eyes and look about. 'Give me some rain, sky, I want to look out of my window and see what is going on,' I asked, so the sky gave me some water and I began to climb to the window. at last I got up there and I open my eyes. oh what a wonderful world I seen when birds sang songs to me, and grasshoppers kissed me, and dance with me, and creakets smiled at me, and I had a pretty green dress. there was trees that grow over me and the wind faned me. the sun smiled at me, and little children smelled me. one bright morning me and the grasshoppers had a party he would play with me and a naughty boy pick me up and tore me up and I died and that was the last of Pansy."
What could I possible add to that?