Tone the Bell Easy Page: 55
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By MARTHA EMMONS
Sometimes I feel like an eagle in de air;
Some o' dese mawnin's bright an' fair
I'm goin' to lay down my heavy load,
Goin' to spread my wings an' cleave the air.
The subject of death holds a strange fascination for the
more primitive of the colored folk. Soaring in triumph on
substantial wings above "dis worl' o' care," resplendent in
trappings of gold-" 'tis a consummation devoutly to be
wished." The crossing over to that blissful state is what
causes concern. Many are the ways and means that have
been evolved for mollifying the pangs of physical death and
for helping the spirit thus released. "Dyin' easy" is the theme
of much talk-and more singing--by these life-loving people.
The subject need not be spurned by any of us; for surely
"evahbody's got ter lay down an' die."
Certain signs, or "omens," of approaching death are a
matter of general recognition among uneducated Negroes.
All of us know the significance of the screech owl's eery
warning.' There are other signs just as ominous. Allah, a
serious-minded, high-souled colored woman in East Texas,
gave me this " 'terp'etation": "Honey, evah time you sees a
dahk Chris'mus, you jes' min' out. Dey's gonna be a lot o'
cullud folks die dat yeah." Another warning which Allah
gave is: "Don't nevah let NOBODY bring a' axe into yo'
house; 'cause, ef dey do, sho's yo' bawn, somebody'll die."
Even as death itself may be foretold, so dying "easy" or
"hard" may be prognosticated. Thomas Nelson Page tells
of a certain old colored Auntie who prophesied that her
master would die "in torments" because of his "rankness in
cussin'," which sin she had known to be the cause of a har-
rowing death-bed scene.2
' Fogel, E. M., Beliefs and Superstitions of Pennsylvania Germans,
Puckett, Newbell Niles, Folk Beliefs of the Southern Negro, p. 482.
2 Page, Thomas Nelson, In Ole Virginia.
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Tone the Bell Easy (Book)
Volume of Texas and Mexican folklore, including folktales about witches, superstitions, slavery, folk cures, folk songs and other legends. The index begins on page 190.
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Dobie, J. Frank (James Frank), 1888-1964. Tone the Bell Easy, book, 1932; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38876/m1/55/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Press.