I went down to that St. James Infirmary,
And I saw some plasma there.
I ups and ask the doctor man,
“Now was the donor dark or fair?”
The doctor laughed a great big laugh
And he puffed it right in my face.
He said, “A molecule is a molecule, son,
And the damn thing has no race.”– Josh White, “Free and Equal Blues” (1945)
In the 1880 “Introduction” to Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, Joel Chandler Harris acknowledges that his stories appear in many other locations throughout the world besides the southern United States. What distinguishes his own versions of these stories, then, is “the medium” (39) – “the dialect of the cotton plantations, as used by Uncle Remus” (43). But once he turns his attention from the stories to Uncle Remus's songs, Harris describes them not in terms of their dialect but rather in terms of their “versification” (45). To explain this versification Harris invokes “Mr. Sidney Lanier, who is thoroughly familiar with the metrical peculiarities of negro songs” (46), as demonstrated by “his scholarly treatise, ‘The Science of English Verse’” (46), which was published earlier that same year. In this treatise Lanier analyzes “a typical negro sermon” as a type of “musical recitative” and, as in Harris's discussion of “Negro songs,” Lanier's central concern is not the sermon's dialect but its versification, or what he calls “poetic effects.”