The Banjo Player

by Fenton Johnson

There is music in me, the music of a peasant people.
I wander through the levee, picking my banjo and singing
    my songs of the cabin and the field. At the
    Last Chance Saloon I am as welcome as the violets
    in March; there is always food and drink for me
    there, and the dimes of those who love honest music.
    Behind the railroad tracks the little children clap
    their hands and love me as they love Kris Kringle.

But I fear that I am a failure. Last night a woman called me a troubadour. What is a troubadour?

From James Weldon Johnson’s anthology The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922).