A Frolic


A Frolic - (2009)    

Paul Laurence Dunbar

for baritone and piano


Swing yo' lady roun' an’ roun',
Do de bes' you know;
Mek yo' bow an' p'omenade
Up an' down de flo';
Mek dat banjo hump huhse'f,
Listen at huh talk:
Mastah gone to town to-night;
'T ain't no time to walk.

Lif' yo' feet an' flutter thoo,
Run, Miss Lucy, run;
Reckon you'll be kotched an' kissed
Fo' de night is done.
You don't need to be so proud –
I's a-watchin' you,
An' I's layin' lots o' plans
Fu' to git you, too.

Moonlight on de cotton-fiel'
Shinin' sof, an' white,
Whippo'will a-tellin' tales
Out thaih in de night;
An' yo' cabin's 'crost de lot:
Run, Miss Lucy, run;
Reckon you'll be kotched an' kissed
Fo' de night is done.

[ 5 pages, circa 2' 30" ]

Paul Laurence Dunbar


This three verse poem in dialect tells a fine tale of planning, as this young man thinks of "his" Miss Lucy, spoken of in respectful tones. The frolic is the perfect occasion for dancing and a promenade, and on this occasion thoughts go directly to "catching and kissing" Miss Lucy.



The introduction and interludes are marked forte, while the accompaniment beneath the vocal line is often marked mezzo piano. The text itself is sweet, with a yearning as it pictures the object of affection as well as images from the night's frolic. The banjo too is spoken of in the feminine, as "lots of plans" go through the character's thoughts..



The last verse brings lingering on some images of the "soft" night, and for this longer upbeats are employed, along with a slightly more delicate accompaniment.



The coda to the setting repeats the aim of the drama, to "catch and kiss" before the night is done. No ritardando is suggested for the final measures, the extended period already written out in notation. The impatience of the upbeats in the vocal line also reinforce the aim of getting to that final goal quickly, metaphorically in the setting as directly in the text itself.



The score for A Frolic is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


A Frolic