The Charcoal Man

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Once a charcoal wagon passed,
And an old black charcoalman,
"Blacker than a midnight blast,"
Mother said. And he began
Crying, "Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal."
And the boys they mocked him, too,
Just the same as parrots do:
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Blacker than a cellar hole!
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!
Char-co-oal!"
But he never looked at them,
Only cracked his blacksnake whip,
Sucking at his old pipe-stem,
Not much blacker than his lip:
Crying, "Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!"
And the boys they mimicked him
While he rode on black and grim:
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Blacker than your old pipe's bowl!
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!
Char-co-oal!"
Then he turned and shook his head
With a sort o' grimy smile;
"Wish you had my job," he said;
"Come and try it for a while,
Crying, "Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!"
But the boys kept up the fun
Crying louder, every one,
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Slower than an old black mole!
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!
Char-co-oal!"
Down he got then from his team,
In his old patched coat and hat,
Rags and dirt at every seam,
Blacker than our old black cat:
Crying, "Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!"
And the boys they stood far off,
Mocking him with gibe and scoff:
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Leaner than an old bean pole!
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!
Char-co-oal!"
I felt sorry for him then:
And my mother called him in:
Bought a boxful. Gentlemen!
Ought to 've seen him laugh and grin,
Crying, "Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!"
And the boys they danced and laughed,
Pleased as he was, while they chaffed:
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Shovel it and let it roll!"
And he answered them as droll
"Charcoal! Charcoal!
Made enough to pay my toll.
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Run and tell your mothers, boys,
Here's the place to buy your choice
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Best they ever bought or stole,
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Bring your barrels here to fill!
You can bring them if you will!
Charcoal! Charcoal!
Help along a needy soul!
Charcoal! charcoal!
Come and buy my charcoal!
Char-co-oal!"

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