I dreamt a dream at the midnight deep,
When fancies come and go
To vex a man in his soothing sleep
With thoughts of awful woe —
I dreamed that I was the corner man
Of a nigger minstrel show.
I cracked my jokes, and the building rang
With laughter loud and long;
I hushed the house as I softly sang
An old plantation song —
A tale of the wicked slavery days
Of cruelty and wrong.
A small boy sat on the foremost seat —
A mirthful youngster he,
He beat the time with his restless feet
To each new melody,
And he picked me out as the brightest star
Of the black fraternity.
“Oh, father,” he said, “what would we do
If the corner man should die?
I never saw such a man — did you?
He makes the people cry,
And then, when he likes, he makes them laugh.”
The old man made reply:
“We each of us fill a very small space
On the great creation’s plan,
If a man don’t keep his lead in the race
There’s plenty more that can;
The world can very soon fill the place
Of even a corner man.”
I woke with a jump, rejoiced to find
Myself at home in bed,
And I framed a moral in my mind
From the words the old man said.
The world will jog along just the same
When the corner men are dead.