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VxPoem ID: 31192


Posted: November 27th. 2007 9:11:49 PM

Views: 1459

Black Charivari

by Cernunnos Poetry

Age Group: Adult

Black Charivari

November 27, 2007


The following is based on a piece of dark local history as told to writer and then new emigrant to this area of Canada, Susanna Moodie, in 1832. We like to think of Canada as an island of civility and human rights, but it was not always so...

"Come lads tonight we must charivari
For today that nigger rogue is wed
No black man a white may marry
Lest we disrupt his marriage bed

"Prepare ye lads for the charivari
For today that Tom Smith will be wed
Though he escaped from southern slavery
He'll not evade our local midnight dread

"Bring your drums and horns young men
To our little harmless charivari tonight
For he'll not have his fair white woman
Before he yields to us in mortal fright

"Gather your ropes and guns me lads
For we will charivari so stout tonight
Let not our nephews be borne of black dads
Such forbidden marriage 'tis not right!"

So went this dark Cobourg chirivari
On that fateful night Tom Smith was wed
In the early days of nineteenth century
When dawn found him bound and dead

Author's Notes: Tom Smith mercifully escaped the oppression of southern slavery by slipping north to the relative freedom of liberal Canada in the 1820's on the underground railway. Landing in the newly settled town of Cobourg he set up a barber's pole and soon became a well liked and productive member of the community, as much as a black man in that world then could have hoped for. He and a local white woman soon fell in love and married. But as was then the local custom, whenever a marriage took place that was a little 'off colour' like that of a younger man to an older woman, or heaven forbid a black man to a white lass, the local young men felt obliged to interrupt the newlyweds at the bridegroom's house on the matrimonial night with what was then known as a charivari - usually a harmless cacaphonus party of noise making by the young men who might usually demand from the groom a night out at the tavern for all, or perhaps what the mob thought a 'just' levy for the bride-groom's sins. But in the case of poor Tom Smith, the mob that formed the charivari at the door of his house on his wedding night was horribly hostile, and they took poor Mr. Smith from his bride, and his hard-earned house, and tied him to a rail for a hazing that, in the end, sadly killed him. No one was ever charged with this terribly unjust murder...

Author's Location: Rural Central, Ontario
More Poems: Cernunnos Poetry has posted 701 additional poems- View them?
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