Tuesday, July 17, 2001

Buh Tukrey Buzzud an de rain

The author of this book, Charles Colcock Jones, Jr., was inspired by Joel Chandler Harris to collect these African-American folktales in Georgia during the late 19th century. You can read the book online here: Negro Myths from the Georgia Coast, Told in the Vernacular, and I've transcribe one of the stories below. You can also read the Brer Rabbit stories of Joel Chandler Harris in the UnTextbook: Brer Rabbit and More Brer Rabbit.

I chose this particular story to transcribe because it reminded me of the Aesop's fable about the dog who is going to build a better house ... but never does: "It was winter time and the dog was lying all curled up in a ball because of the cold. This made him think about building a house, but when summer came, he was once again able to sleep stretched out at full length. In fact, the dog was so impressed by his own size that he decided not to build himself a house after all, seeing as it would be no small job to make a house big enough to fit him." (Perry 449 from Plutarch, and you can also find Aesop's story in Rumi Mathnawi 3).

I've added a version in more standard English (but not completely standard; you'll see what I mean) below the text as it appears in the book, but trust me: the dialect isn't hard to get used to, especially if you read it out loud.

~ ~ ~


Buh Tukrey Buzzud, him yent hab no sense no how. You watch um.

Wen de rain duh po down, eh set on de fench an eh squinch up isself. Eh draw in eh neck, an eh try fur hide eh head, an eh look dat pittyful you rale sorry for um. Eh duh half cry, an eh say to isself, "Nummine, wen dis rain ober me guine buil house right off. Me yent guine leh dis rain lick me dis way no mo."

Wen de rain done gone, an de win blow, an de sun shine, wuh Buh Tukrey Buzzud do? Eh set on de top er de dead pine tree way de sun kin wam um, an eh tretch out eh wing, an eh tun roun an roun so de win kin dry eh fedder, an eh laugh to isself, an eh say, "Dis rain done ober. Eh yent guine rain no mo. No use fur me fuh buil house now."

Caless man dis like Buh Tukrey Buzzud.



Brother Turkey Buzzard, he ain't got no sense nohow. You watch him.

When the rain pours down, he sits on the fence and he squinches himself up. He draws in his neck, and he tries to hide his head and he looks so pitiful that you feel real sorry for him. He's practically crying and says to himself, "Never mind, when this rain is over, I'm gonna build a house right off. I ain't gonna let this rain lick me this way no more."

When the rain done gone and the wind is blowing and the sun is shining, what does Brother Turkey Buzzard do? He sits on top of the dead pine tree where the sun can warm him, and he stretches out his wings, and he turns round and round so that he can dry his feathers, and he laughs to himself and says, "This rain is over. It ain't gonna rain no more. There's no use for me to build a house now."

A careless man is like Brother Turkey Buzzard.



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