Hard-time blues

By William Waring Cuney 1906–1976
Went down home ’bout a year ago
things so bad, Lord, my heart was sore.
Folks had nothing was a sin and shame
every-body said hard time was the blame.
      Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
      lost every thing they ever had.

Sun was shining fourteen days and no rain
hoeing and planting was all in vain.
Hard hard times, Lord, all around
meal barrels empty crops burnt to the ground.
      Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
      lost every thing they ever had.

Skinny looking children bellies poking out
that old pellagra without a doubt.
Old folks hanging ’round the cabin door
ain’t seen times this hard before.
      Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
      lost every thing they ever had.

I went to the Boss at the Commissary store
folks all starving please don’t close your door
want more food a little more time to pay
Boss Man laughed and walked away.
      Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
      lost every thing they ever had.

Landlord coming ’round when the rent is due
you ain’t got the money take your home from you
take your mule and horse even take your cow
get offa my land you ain’t no good no how.
      Great-God-a-mighty folks feeling bad
      lost every thing they ever had.

William Waring Cuney, "Hard-time blue" from Storefront Church, published in 1973 by Paul Breman Limited. After exhaustive efforts have been made to identify and contact a rights holder, this material is believed to be in the public domain. If you have information about rights to this work, please email us at mail@poetryfoundation.org.

Source: Storefront Church (1973)

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Poet William Waring Cuney 1906–1976

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Class

Biography

William Waring Cuney was born in Washington, DC, in 1906. He attended Howard University and graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania before deciding to pursue a career in singing; he attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and from there went to Rome. Cuney never performed professionally and eventually switched his focus to writing. When he was eighteen, his poem “No Images” won a prize in the . . .

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Poems by William Waring Cuney

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Money & Economics, Class

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

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