The Tar Baby and the Tomahawk: Race and Ethnic Images in American Children's Literature, 1880-1939


QUEER PEOPLE (For Home or School representation)

[THREE boys, dressed as Esquimaux, Highlander, and Chinese, and three girls, as Turk, Indian, and Spaniard, form a semicircle on the stage. A boy and a girl, in plain dress, standing, one at each end, bring forward the characters alternately, repeating the appropriate part. Instead of two, six boys and girls, representing a geography class, may recite the verses. The opening and closing stanzas are to be spoken in concert.]

ALL around this world of ours,
Whirling swift as thought, Through the icebergs and the flowers,
Glimpses we have caught
Of such curious folk, we know
You would like to have us show
Their queer ways, so we'll produce them,
One by one, and introduce them.


Over the snow,
The Esquimaux,
Drawn by his snarling pack,
Follows the Arctic night,
Sweeping on in a rapid flight,
Under the gay Aurora's light,
Over the frozen track.
To and fro,
As the north winds blow,
The rude lamp swings in his hut of snow.
Bunches of moss they burn for wicks,
Tallow candles for their candy-sticks.
[illustration - The Esquimaux]
Never a doll do the children see,
Scarcely a flower, or shrub, or tree.
Smothered in furs from toes to chin,
Head wrapped up so you can't peep in,
Only their small, dull eyes look through;
Funny enough it would seem to you!
Do you wish that you were an Esquimaux,
To eat and sleep in the land of snow?
[illustration - The Turk]


Where the tiny waves of heat
Quiver upward like a prayer,
Dainty perfumes, shy and sweet,
Tremble on the sultry air—
In the dim seraglio lie
Cushion-heaps of richest silk;
Languid beauties charm the eye,
Almond-eyed, with teeth like milk.
As the dreamy days go by,
Breezes from the outer world
Sometimes breathe a gentle sigh,
Pausing at the casement high,
Where the white smoke, upward curled,
Struggles through the heavy air.
Breezes are not wanted there.
All unvexed by aspiration,
Dreams the Turk her life away;
Scarcely stirred by expectation,
As the tranquil fountains play,
While the roses' ceaseless bloom

Steeps her senses in perfume.
Would you rather be an indolent Turk,
Or your own bright self, with plenty of work?


When crossing bonnie Scotland,
A Highlander I saw
His bonnet it was canty,
His stockings they were braw;
Between his stocking and his kilt,
His bare knee might be seen,
And the kilt fell beneath his belt
In faulds o' brightest green.
But oh! the plaid on his shoulders braid,
That pleased me best of a';—
But the peaks are touched wi' a glimmer o' gowd,
And he must be up and awa'.
Where the burn comes springing down the hill,
Wi' mony an eddying laugh,
I watch him climbing from crag to crag,
Aye grasping a sturdy staff.
His sheep, wi' fleece like the mountain snaw,
Graze ower the slopes abon;
He hugs his plaid as the cauld winds blaw,
And scornfully he looks doon
On the braid green fields, where the stream winds slow,
And the sleek herds crop the grass,
[illustration - The Highlander]
And the gentle Lowlander follows the plow,
From the height of his mountain pass.
Oh! who would not a Highlander be,
To roam o'er the hill-tops, blithe and free?


The desert stretches eastward
From the foot-hills bare and dry,
Beneath the cloudless reaches
Of the desert wastes of sky.
[illustration - The Indian]
There are clusters of dingy wigwams grouped
In spots where sage-brush grows,
And the alkali dust drifts thick and white,
Wherever the hot wind blows.
In the shade of the tent, an Indian stout
Lies smoking his pipe at ease,
While his patient squaw, moving in and out,
Seems striving her lord to please.
When the dinner is simmering over the fire,
And the skins have all been dressed,
She lifts her droll papoose to her back.
And starts on some weary quest.
All the burden and all the care
Fall on the weaker of the pair;
Bad for Indian and bad for squaw,
That the will of one should be always law.
Oh! let us be glad of our clear white skin,
And the dear home happiness all may win.


I should like to bring
My friend Ching Ling
And give him an introduction
Now confess to me
That you rarely see
Such a curious foreign production!

From his shaven pate to his turned-up shoes,
His singular costume plainly shows
That he thinks his way the best.
He is ready to swear,
With a serious air,
That of all the countries under the sun,
His own dear China's the only one
With wisdom supremely blest
Dogs and rats are good in their place,
Birds'-nest soups may a banquet grace,
Chop-sticks, too, will do very well,
If you play the regular Chinese swell;
But oh! give me
A cup of their tea,
Odorous, black, and strong!
Ching Ling is coming across this spring,
But a chest of his own he must surely bring,
Or his stay will not be long.
It will be our gain,
If we can retain
Our friend from the Flowery Land,
For patience and skill,
And strength of will,
He holds in his yellow hand.
[illustration - Ching Ling]
Now, boys, remember how much depends
On being polite to our Chinese friends.


Languidly, dreamily, float to my ear,
Strains from a distant guitar;
Soon in the moonlighted darkness appear—
Blended the near and the far—
Dusky-robed figures of marvelous grace,
Weaving the forms of the dance;
[illustration - The Spainiard]
Dark eyes gleam brightly through half-veiling lace,
Eyes that can melt with a glance;
Fountains arise from the stones at our feet,
Plashing their musical rain;
Vineyards, and olives, and orange-trees sweet,
Tell us that we are in Spain.
Picturesque creatures upon us attend—
What if they say, "In an hour,"
When on some mission we quickly would send?
Calmness gives token of power.
Would you prefer such slow service to wait,
Or with decision to carve your own fate?


These are a few of the folks we have found;
How do you like their looks?
If you're not able to travel around,
You may meet them in your books.
But, among the people we have seen,
The queerest of all those
Who never notice their neighbors' ways,
But live in ignorance all their days,
Of facts which the whole world knows.