I dreamt a dream at the midnight deep, When fancies come and go To vex a man in his soothing sleep With thoughts of awful woe -- I dreamed that I was the corner man Of a nigger minstrel show. I cracked my jokes, and the building rang With laughter loud and long; I hushed the house as I softly sang An old plantation song -- A tale of the wicked slavery days Of cruelty and wrong.
A small boy sat on the foremost seat -- A mirthful youngster he, He beat the time with his restless feet To each new melody, And he picked me out as the brightest star Of the black fraternity.
"Oh, father," he said, "what would we do If the corner man should die? I never saw such a man -- did you? He makes the people cry, And then, when he likes, he makes them laugh." The old man made reply:
"We each of us fill a very small space On the great creation's plan, If a man don't keep his lead in the race There's plenty more that can; The world can very soon fill the place Of even a corner man."
I woke with a jump, rejoiced to find Myself at home in bed, And I framed a moral in my mind From the words the old man said. The world will jog along just the same When the corner men are dead.