Songs of Jamaica

MISSING IMAGE

Material Information

Title:
Songs of Jamaica
Physical Description:
140 p. : port. ; 19 cm.
Language:
English
Creator:
McKay, Claude, 1890-1948
Publisher:
A.W. Gardner & Co.
Place of Publication:
Kingston, Jamaica
Publication Date:

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Poetry -- Jamaica   ( lcsh )
Genre:
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

General Note:
Melodies with text: p. 135-140.
Statement of Responsibility:
With an introd. by Walter Jekyll.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Applicable rights reserved.
Resource Identifier:
oclc - 02026930
ocm02026930
Classification:
lcc - PS3525.A24785 S6
System ID:
AA00011909:00001


This item is only available as the following downloads:


Full Text












SONGS OF JAMAICA
















































CLAUDE ML'KAY.
(Powto by Cleary.)


WI Am-





SONGS OF JAMAICA



a


BY

CLAUDE McKAY


WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY WALTER JEKYLL
AUTHOR OF "JAMAIOAN SONG AND STORY"







KINGSTON, JAMAICA
ASTON W. GARDNER & CO.

LONDON
JAMAICA AGENCY
GAMAOE BUILDING, HOLBORN


1912














TO
HIS EXCELLENCY


SIR SYDNEY OLIVIER, K.C.M.G.,
GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA,
WHO
BY HIS SYMPATHY WITH THE BLACK RACE
HAS WON
THE LOVE AND ADMIRATION OF ALL JAMAICANS,
THIS VOLUME IS
BY PERMISSION
RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED.


PS

A a47 25
3a7SS.


[All rights reserved]











PREFACE


WHAT Italian is to Latin, that in regard to English
is the negro variant thereof. It shortens, softens,
rejects the harder sounds alike of consonants and
vowels; I might almost say, refines. In its soft
tones we have an expression of the languorous
sweetness of the South: it is a feminine version
of masculine English; pre-eminently a language
of love, as all will feel who, setting prejudice aside,
will allow the charmingly naive love-songs of this
volume to make their due impression upon them.
But this can only happen when the verses are read
aloud, and those unacquainted with the Jamaican
tongue may therefore welcome a few hints as to
pronunciation.
As a broad general direction, let it be observed
that the vowels have rather the continental than
the English sounds, while in the matter of the
consonants the variation from English is of the
nature of a pretty lisp.
The exact values of the vowels cannot, of course,
be described, but they approximate on the whole
more to those of Italy and France than to those
5




PREFACE


of England. One sound, that of aw, is entirely
rejected, and ak is substituted for it. Thus bawl,
law, call, daughter, etc., become bahl, lah, cahl,
dahter, etc.
In the word whe', which sometimes means where
and sometimes which, the e has the same sound as
in the word met. Dek is similarly pronounced, and
the e is quite a short one, the h being added merely
to distinguish deh from de (the). This short e often
takes the place of the close English a, as in tek
(take), mek (make).
My is almost invariably pronounced with a short
y, and, to remind the reader of this, it is constantly
spelt me. Fe-generally meaning to, but some-
times for-matches this short my exactly. In caan'
(can't) the a is doubled in order to ensure the
pronunciation cahn.
It is difficult to convey the exact value of do'n
(down), groun' (ground). There is a faint trace of
ng at the end of these words, and they rhyme to
tongue pronounced very shortly and with a dumber
vowel sound.
Vowels are sometimes changed out of mere
caprice, as it seems. Thus we have ef for i,
trimble for tremble, anedder for anudder (another),
stimulent for stimulant, a-pronounced short-for I,
sperit for spirit.
In ya, originally meaning d'you hear-but now
thrown in just to fill up, like the don't you know
of certain talkers-the a is a short ah.
We come now to the consonants. Bearing in




PREFACE


mind what was said above of the pretty lisp, let
the d so often-generally, we may say-substituted
for th, be of the very softest, as it were a th turning
towards d, or to put it in another way, a lazily
pronounced th. The negro has no difficulty what-
ever in pronouncing it clearly: it is merely that
he does not, as a rule, take the trouble to do so.
In these poems the, they, there, with, etc., are not
always written de, dey, dere, wid, etc. ; and the
reader is at liberty to turn any soft th into d, and
any d into soft th. And here let me remark, in
passing, that in one breath the black man will
pronounce a word in his own way, and in the
next will articulate it as purely as the most refined
Englishman. Where the substitution of d makes
the word unrecognisable, as in modern (mother),
oders (others), the spelling mudder, udders is
resorted to; and for fear of confusion with well-
known words, though, those are always written thus,
although generally pronounced, dough, dose.
As d supplants the soft th, so does a simple t
supplant the hard one; as in ting, nothing (or
nuttin',-for the g in words of two or more syllables
is very commonly left out), t'ink, tick, through,
met'od, wutless (worthless).
V tends to pass into b, as in lub (love), hab, lib,
ebery, neber, cultibation. Vex, though so written for
the most part, is pronounced either with a decided
b or with some compromise between that and v.
Of elisions, the commonest is that of the initial
s when followed by another consonant. Thus start,




PREFACE


spread, stop, scrape, spoil, sting, skin, etc., become
'tart, reada, 'top, 'crape, 'poil, 'ting, 'kin, etc.
Final d's are often dropped, as in lan', t'ousan',
please' (pleased) and other past participles, min',
chir--in these let care be taken to keep the long
sound of the i-wul' (world), wud (word), en'.
Final t's also; as in breas', cas', 'gains' (against),
i' (it), las', wha', wus' (worst), tas'e (taste).
Present participles, passing brukin' (breaking),
outpouring etc., lose their g's; and final k's some-
times disappear, as in tas'. R's, too, as in you'
for your, mo' for more, befo' or simply 'fo' for before:
and they are even thrown out from the middle of
words, as in wuk (work), tu'n (turn), wud (word).
Will occasionally loses its l's and becomes wi'.
Initial vowels have also a habit of vanishing:
as in 'bout (about), 'long (along), 'way (away), nuff
(enough), 'pon (upon); but the elision of these and
of longer first syllables is sometimes made up by
tacking something to the end, and for about, without,
because we get 'bouten, 'douten, 'causen.
On the construction of the language it is un-
necessary to dwell, for it is fully explained in the
notes, and the reader will soon master the mysteries
of be'n with its various significations, is, was, were,
have been, had been, did (as sign of the past tense);
of deh, which may be either an adverb (there) or
an auxiliary verb as in me deh beg (I am begging);
of dem tacked close to its noun, to show it is
plural; of tenses apparently past which are present,
and apparently present which are past: for the




PREFACE 9
unravelling of all which the needful help has, it
is hoped, been supplied by the notes aforesaid.

Readers of this volume will be interested to know
that they here have the thoughts and feelings of a
Jamaican peasant of pure black blood. The young
poet, aged twenty-two, spent his early years in the
depths of the country, and though he has now
moved to the more populous neighbourhood of
Kingston, his heart remains in his Clarendon hills.
He began life as a wheelwright, but the trade was
not to his mind, and he left it and enlisted in
the Constabulary.
WALTER JEKYLL.




















CONTENTS

PAGE
QUASHIE TO BUCCRA 13
ME BANNABEES 15
LUB O' MINE 18. .
TAKEN ABACK 20
LITTLE JIM 22
JIM AT SIXTEEN 24
WHE' FE DO? 27
>KING BANANA 30
PLEADING 32
THE BITER BIT .. 36
OUT OF DEBT 38
THE HERMIT 41
/FETCHIN' WATER 42
SCHOOL-TEACHER NELL'S LUB-LETTER 45
NELLIE WHITE 47
RETRIBUTION 49
TOE. M. E. 51
HARD TIMES 53
>CUDJOE FRESH FROM DE LECTURE. 55
DE DAYS DAT ARE GONE 59
REVEILLE SOUN'IN' 61
/OLD ENGLAND 63





12 CONTENTS

FAGc
DAT DIRTY RUM 66
HEART-STIRRINGS 69
DE DOG-ROSE 72
A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE BOBBY 74
' MOTHER DEAR 77
KITE-FLYING .. 79
IONE 8
KILLING' NANNY 83
/MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME 84
TWO-AN'-SIX 86
COMPENSATION 92
HEARTLESS RHODA 93
/A DREAM 95
RISE AND FALL. 100
BENEATH THE YAMPY SHADE 102
TO INSPECTOR W. E. CLARK 104
TO CLARENDON HILLS AND H. A. H. 106
WHEN YOU WANT A BELLYFUL 108
STROKES OF THE TAMARIND SWITCH III
SMY PRETTY DAN 114
RIBBER COME-DO'N 116
A COUNTRY GIRL 119
MY SOLDIER-LAD 122
MY MOUNTAIN HOME 124
TO BENNIE 127
HOPPING OFF THE TRAM 128
TO A COMRADE 129
JUBBA 130
APPENDIX OF TUNES 133












QUASHIE TO BUCCRA'


You tas'e petater an' you say it sweet,
But you no4 know how hard we wuk fe it;
You want a basketful fe quattiewut,6
'Cause you no know how 'tiff de bush fe cut.7

De cowitch under which we hab fe 'toop,
De shamar9 lyin' t'ick like pumpkin soup,
Is killing' something1' for a naygur man;
Much less 1 de cutlass working' in we han'.

De sun hot like when fire ketch a'1 town;
Shade-tree look temptin', yet we caan' lie down,
Aldough we would' eben ef we could,
Causen we job must finish soon an' good.13

I The buccra (white man), looking over the hedge at the black man's
field, is addressed by the latter as follows.
2 Taste. 3 Sweet potato (Ipomaa Batatas). 4 Don't.
SWork. Quattieworth: quattie, a quarter of sixpence.
7 Because you don't know how stiff the bush is to cut, i.e., what hard
work it is to fell the trees and clear the land.
8 Mucuna ruriens.
O Shamebush, the prickly sensitive plant (Mimosa Pudica).
o1 Terrible stuff. More.
1s In. 1" Because our job must be quickly and thoroughly done.





14 SONGS OF JAMAICA

De bush cut done, de bank dem we deh dig,'
But dem caan' 'tan' sake o' we naybor pig;
For so we moul' it up he root it do'n,2
An' we caan' 'peak sake o' we naybor tongue.3

Aldough de vine is little, it can bear;
It wantin'not'in' but a little care :
You see petater tear up groun', you run,4
You laughing sir, you must be t'ink a fun.6

De fiel' pretty ? It couldn't less 'an dat,6
We wuk de bes',7 an' den de lan' is fat;
We dig de row dem eben in a line,
An' keep it clean-den so it mus' look fine.

You tas'e petater an' you say it sweet,
But you no know how hard we wuk fe it;
Yet still de hardship always melt away
Wheneber it come roun' to reapin' day.

I The clearing of the land done, we dig the banks-kind of terraces
on the steep hill-side-but owing to our neighbour's pig they cannot
stand. Bank dem "=banks. This intrusive "dem must be tacked
closely to the preceding word. It occurs again below-" row dem."
2 For no sooner do we mould it up, than he (the pig) roots it (the
bank) down. Down is pronounced very short, and is a good rhyme
to tongue."
I And we cannot complain, for this would bring confusion," i.e.,
cause a row.
4 A piece of humorous exaggeration : "When you see the potatoes
tearing up the ground in their rapid growth you will run to save your-
self from being caught and entangled in the vines."
5 You are laughing, sir-perhaps you think I am exaggerating.
6 Less than that=be otherwise.
7 We work as well as we possibly can.












ME BANNABEES'


RUN ober mango trees,
'Pread chock2 to kitchen doo',
Watch de blue bannabees,
Look how it ben' down low !

De blossom draw de bees
Same how de soup draw man ;
Some call it "broke-pot" peas,
It caan' bruk we bu'n-pan. '


Wha' sweet so when it t'ick ? 6
Though some call it goat-tud,O
Me all me finger lick,
An' yet no chew me cud.7


I A corruption of Bonavist, a climbing bean or pea.
I Right up.
3 The blossom attracts bees, just as the soup made from the peas
attracts man.
SIt can't break our burn-pan-a tall saucepan.
8 What is so good as this soup, when it is thick ?
SGoat-droppings-the name of a poisonous plant, somewhat re-
sembling bannabees.
7 Because I haven't yet got my belly full: see below.




SONGS OF JAMAICA


A mumma plant' de root
One day jes' out o' fun ;
But now look 'pon de fruit,
See wha' de mek fun done.

I jam de 'tick dem straightt
Soon as it 'tart fe 'pread,4
An begin count de date
Fe when de pod fe shed.,

Me watch de vine dem grow,
S'er6 t'row dung a de root:
Crop time look fe me slow,
De bud tek long fe shoot.

But so de day did come,
I 'crub de bu'n-pan bright,
An' tu'n down 'pon it 7 from
De martin' till de night.

An' Lard I me belly swell,
No 'cause de peas no good,
But me be'n tek8 a 'pell
Mo' dan a giant would.

Yet eben after dat
Me nyam 9 it wid a will,
'Causen it mek me fat;
So I wi' lub it still.

1 It was mamma who planted.
2 With no serious purpose.
3 To make fun= to trifle.
4 As soon as it began to spread.
When the pod will be formed. Sister.
7 The soup. Did take. 9 I ate.





ME BANNABEES


Caan' talk1 about gungu,2
Fe me it is no peas;
Cockstone8 might do fe you,
Me want me bannabees.


It's not the least use your talking.
s Red peas-the beans of America.


* Congo peas.











LUB O' MINE


DARLIN', though you lub me still,
I feel it so,
To t'ink dat we neber will
Meet soon, you know;

Eben when you tell me say
Dat your dear heart2
Did grow strongerr ebery day
An' hate fe part.

Feelin' all you' lub for me,
I t'ink3 you press
Your heart, as it use' to be,'
Upon me breas'.

Lubin' you wid all me soul,
De lub is such
Dat it beat out blood,--de whole,6
An' dat is much.

Although you do tell me. The word 'say' is redundant.
SLove. 'Imagine. As formerly.
* Beats out relations-i.e., makes relations nothing.
SFather and mother and all.




LUB O' MINE


Lubin' you as you go 'long
In a you walk; 1
Also when you chune 2 a song,
An' as you talk.

An'.a so I hate fe see a
You go astray
In those things dat you and me
Can cast away.4

Lub, I dyin' fe you' smile,
An' some sweet news
Dat can cheer me heart awhile
Fe wha' it lose.

Lub me, darlin'-lub, aldough
You are now gone:
You can never leave me so-
Friendless-alone.

In your walk. 2 Tune=sing.
SAnd I so hate to see. Need not do. I am dying.











TAKEN ABACK


LET me go, Joe, for I want go home:
Can't stan wid you,2
For pa might go8 come;
An' if him only hab him rum,4
I don't know whatever I'll do.

I must go now, for it's getting' night
I am afraid,
An' 'tis not moonlight:
Give me de last hug, an' do it tight;
Me pa gwin' go knock off me head.5


No, Joe, don't come I-you will keep me late,
An' pa might be
In him sober state;
Him might get vex'7 an' lock up de gate,
Den what will becoming' of me?

STo go. I can't stay with you.
3 A redundant word, unaccented.
If he chances to be in liquor.
My papa is going to go (and) knock off my head. The o in
" oin" is pronounced very short, making it sound like a w.
* is. 7 Vexed.





TAKEN ABACK 21

Go wid you, Joe?-you don't lub me den I
I shame'1 o' you-
Gals caan'2 trust you men !
An' I b'en tekin' you fe me frien' ;8
Good-night, Joe, you've proven untrue.

1 Am ashamed. 2 Can't.
3 And I've been taking you for my friend.











LITTLE JIM


ME Lard I me caan' bear it no mo' I
'Twill kill me dead, dis bad sore toe;
All day, all night, 'tis all de same,
Mek me a bawl out Massa name.1
O Lard o' me, a 'fraid 2 to tu'n,
De way de dreadful bluestone bu'n Is
A 4 feel it movin' through me j'ints,
Like million load o' needle-p'ints.
An' oh me schoolmates dem6 did laugh,
De day I nearly knock' it off;
Me laugh meself fe sake o' shame,7
An' didn' know I'd go so lame.
I didna' then t'ink what I'd got8-
Good Lard, mumma, de bluestone hot!9
I tell you, a wi' lose me head; 10
You satisfy to kill me dead ?
SMaking me bawl (pronounce bahl) out Massa's (God's) name.
I am afraid.
3 So dreadfully does the bluestone (sulphate of copper) burn.
4 I.
5 Redundant word. It is tacked closely to the preceding word.
SKnocked. 7 I laughed myself, out of bravado.
8 I did not then picture to myself the extent of the injury.
9 Is painful. 10 I shall go out of my mind, I tell you.
1 Can it be that you don't care whether you kill me or not ?





LITTLE JIM 23

An' oh I it is a double pain,
For I caan' go to school again,
To gellop ober fyahn an' ditch,
An' 'crew de j'int o' teacher switch.2

No mo' roas' corn 8 fe little Jim,
Dem say dat it no good' fe him:
Me hide me face, for me caan' bear
To see dem passing' wid de pear.5

But me a don't a gwin'G to fret,
De half a toe wi' better get:'
I'll go to school once more, go bad ;
Ay, it ease me a bit,9 t'ank God I

1 To gallop over fern.
To screw the joint of teacher's switch, is to cut it so that it breaks
when he uses it.
3 Baked cob of green maize. They say it is not good.
5 Alligator pear (Persea gralissima), not allowed to those suffering
from wounds. 6 But I am not going.
7 The half toe will get well some day.
s Play the mischief; play tricks. The a sounds as in French la.
9 It is a bit easier.











JIM AT SIXTEEN


Corpy,1 it pinch me so,
De blooming' ole handcuff;
A dunno warra mek 2
You put it on so rough.

Many a policeman
Hab come to dis before;
Dem slip same like a3 me,
An' pass through lock-up door.4

Mumma, no bodder6 cry,
It should an 6 hotter be;
I would' heed you when
You use' 7 fe talk to me.

I run 8 away from you
Same as I tu'n out school,9
'Caus'n a didn' want
To stan' under no rule.10

1 Corporal. 2 I don't know what made.
This intrusive "a" is common. Like" has the pronunciation of
French lac.
4 The door of the lock-up.
5 Do not bother (trouble) to cry-i.e., do not cry.
6 Intrusive again. 7 Used. 8 Ran.
* As soon as I left school. 10 To be under discipline.
24





JIM AT SIXTEEN 25

An' though you send1 fe me,
A would face de home;
Yet still dem 2 find you quick
Same as de trouble come.8
Mumma, I know quite well
You' lub fe me is 'trong;
Yet still you don't a go
Join wid me in a wrong.'
An' so I won't beg you
To pay 6 fe me to-day;
I'll bear me punishment,6
'Twill teach me to obey.
*- *- *- *.
Mumma, you' Jim get 'way
An' come back home 7 to you,
An' ask you to forgive
Him all o' whe' him do.9
I want you to feget
Dat I disgrace de name,
An' cause de ole fam'ly10
To look 'pon me wid shame.
You come an' beg de judge
Before dem call fe me,"
An' walk by de back gate,
T'inkin' I would' see.
I Sent. 2 The police. When the trouble came.
4 You are not going to back me up in wrongdoing.
5 The fine. 6 And go to prison.
7 Has got off and comes home. s Asks.
SAll he has done. Whe'= what. 1' PronouncefaAmly.
" You came and begged the magistrate before my case was brought





26 SONGS OF JAMAICA

But 'fore him let me go,
Him lectur' me, mumma,
Tellin' me how I mus'
Try no fe bruk de law.1

Mumma, I feel it, but
No eye-water caan' drop:
Yet I wish dat it could,
For me breat' partly 'top.2

So, mumma, I come back
Again to be your boy,
An' ever as before
To fill you' heart wid joy.

NOTB BY THE AUTHOR.--On Friday I went to Court on duty for
the third time since my enlistment. I happened to escort a prisoner,
a stalwart young fellow, and as I was putting on the handcuff, which
was rather small, it pinched him badly, making a raw wound. And
yet he was so patient, saying he knew that I could not help it.
Although it was accidentally done, I felt so sad and ashamed. The
above poem grew out of this incident.


Telling me I must take care not to break the law. Pronounce lah.
He means, that the lump in his throat is more painful than tears.










WHE' FE DO?1


LIFE will continue so for aye,
Some people sad, some people gay,
Some mockin' 2 life while udders pray;
But we mus' fashion-out we way
An' sabe a mite fe rainy day-
All we can do.

We needn' fold we han' an' cry,
Nor vex we heart wid groan and sigh;
De best we can do is fe try
To fight de despair drawin' nigh:
Den we might conquer by an' by-
Dat we might do.

We hab to batter 8 in de sun,
An' dat isn't a little fun,
For Lard I 'tis hellish how it bu'n :
Still dere's de big wul' to live do'n-
So whe' fe do?

What to do?-equivalent to "What can't be cured, must be
endured." The e of whe' is the French d.
' Making mock at. Labour and sweat; swink.




8 SONGS OF JAMAICA

We nigger hab a tas' fe do,
To conquer prejudice dat 2 due
To obeah,8 an' things not a few
Dat keep we progress back fe true '-
But whe' fe do?

We've got to wuk wid might an' main,
To use we han' an' use we brain,
To toil an' worry, 'cheme an' train6
Fe things that bring more loss dan gain;
To stan' de sun an bear de rain,
An' suck we bellyful o' pain
Widouten cry 6 nor yet complain-
For dat caan'7 do.

And though de wul' is full o' wrong,
Dat caan' prevent we sing we song
All de day as we wuk along-
Whe' else fe do?

We happy in de hospital;
We happy when de rain deh fall ;"
We happy though de baby bawl
Fe food dat we no hab at all; 0
We happy when Deat' angel call"
Fe full 12 we cup of joy wid gall:
Our fait' in this life is not small-
De best to do.

I Task. 2 That's. 3 Sorcery and magic.
4 Very much. 5 Scheme and strain. 6 Without crying.
7 Can't= won't.
8 All the lines of this stanza end with the sound akl.
9 Is falling. 10 Don't have at all=haven't got.
Death's angel calls. Is Fill.




WHE' FE DO?


An' da's 1 de way we ought to live,
For pain an' such 2 we should' grieve,
But tek de best dat Nature give-
Da's whe' fe do.

God mek de wul' fe black an' white;
We'll wuk on in de glad sunlight,
Keep toilin' on wid all our might,
An' sleep in peace when it is night:
We must strive on to gain de height,
Aldough it may not be in sight;
An' yet perhaps de blessed right
Will never conquer in de fight-
Still, whe' fe do?

We'll try an' live as any man,
An' fight de wul' de best we can,
E'en though it hard fe understand'
Whe' we mus' do.

For da's de way o' dis ya wul'; 4
It's snap an' bite, an' haul an' pull,
An' we all get we bellyful-
But whe' fe do?


SThat's. 2 The like.
As others do, who make a good fight.


4 Of this (here) world.











KING BANANA


GREEN mancha mek2 fe naygur man ;
Wha' sweet so when it roas'?
Some boil it in a big black pan,
It sweeter in a toas'.3
A buccra fancy 4 when it ripe,
Dem use it ebery day ;
It scarcely give dem belly-gripe,
Dem eat it diffran' way.6
Out yonder see somoke6 a rise,
An' see de fire wicket ;
Deh go'p to heaben wid de nize 8
Of hundred t'ousan' cricket.
De black moul' lie do'n quite prepare'
Fe feel de hoe an' rake ;
De fire bu'n, and it tek care
Fe mek de wo'm 9 dem wake.
I Corruption of Martinique," the best variety of banana in Jamaica.
SIs (or was) made.
3 In a toast=toasted. A toasted or roasted banana is a baked bananL.
4 It is buccra's fancy, i.e., the white man likes it.
s In a different way: not so much at a time as we eat.
This lengthening of a monosyllable into a dissyllable is common.
7 Wicked.
a It goes up to heaven with the noise, etc. This is an excellent
simile, as those acquainted with tropical crickets will know.
Worms, i.e., grubs.





KING BANANA 31

Wha' lef fe buccra teach again
Dis time about plantation ?
Dere's not'in' dat can beat de plain
Good ole-time cultibation.

Banana dem fat all de same1
From bunches big an' 'trong;
Pure nine-han' bunch a car' de fame,2-
Ole met'od all along.

De cutting' done same ole-time way,
We wrap dem in a trash,3
An' pack dem neatly in a dray
So tight dat dem can't mash.

We re'ch:' banana finish sell;
Den we 'tart back fe home :
Some hab money in t'read-bag well,
Some spen' all in a rum.

Green mancha mek fe naygur man,
It mek fe him all way ;7
Our islan' is banana lan',
Banana car' de sway.s

SIn spite of primitive methods of cultivation the bananas are just as
plump.
2 The nine-hand and only (pure) nine-hand bunches-none smaller,
that is-grown by this old method have a fine reputation.
3 In trash. Any refuse is called "trash." Here dried banana leaves
are meant.
4 Reach our journey's end. The selling of the bananas is over.
6 Bag secured by a thread (string) round the mouth.
I In every way. He can eat it or sell it.
Carries the sway, i.e., is Jamaica's mainstay.










PLEADING


IF you lub me, Joanie, only tell me, dear,
Do not be so cold
When my lub is bold;
Do not mek dis burnin' heart o' mine get drear,
Tek it for your own,
For 'tis yours alone.

I hab eber lub'd you from I saw I your face
On dat Monday morn
'Mongst de peas an' corn:
Lightly did you trip along wid yout'ful grace,
Wid de kerchief red
Wound about your head.

Durin' de revival2 we b'en use' fe pray,
Spirit we b'en hab,
How we use' fe sob I
Yet how soon did all of it from we get 'way 3
Lub kiver de whole,
We feget we "soul."

1 From the moment that I saw.
2 At revival meetings those who have the Spirit "give granting sobs.
Go away, pass away.




PLEADING


Though I could'n' see you when you younger b'en,
It was better so,
For we older grow,
An' I can protect you now from udder men,
If you'll only be
Fe me one,1 Joanie.
How I saw you proudly draw up to your height-
As we strolled along
Gay in laugh an' song,
Passin' by de peenies2 sheddin' greenish light-
'Cos my lips did miss,8
Stealin' one lee' kiss I
'Member you de days down by de river-side,
I prevented you
Your washin' to do,
Teasin' you at times till you got vex' an' cried,
An' I try de while
To coax you fe smile?
Joanie, when you were me own a true sweetheart,
I lived in de air
'Douten 6 thought of care,
Thinkin', O me Joan, dat' nuttin' could we7 part,
Naught to mek me fear
Fe me own a dear.
When in church on Sunday days we use' fe sit,
You dressed in light pink,
How we used fe wink !
Wha' de parson say we cared for not a bit,
Nuttin' could remove
Our sweet thoughts from love.
SMine alone. 2 Fire-flies. Make a mistake. Little.
SThere is a delicious caressing sound about this intrusive "a."
Withouten, without. Us.





34 SONGS OF JAMAICA
I am thinking Joanie, when de nights were lone,
An' you were afraid
Of each darkened shade,
An' I use' fe guide you over river-stone,1
How you trusted me
Fe care2 you, Joanie.

'Member you de time when many days passed by,
An' I didn' come
To your hill-side home,
How you wrote those sad, sad letters to know
why,
Till I comfort gave
To my Joanie brave?


In those happy days, me Joan,
then,
An' I thought dat you
Would be ever true;
Never dreamed you would forsake
men,
Who caan' lub you so
Much as thrown-up Joe.


you loved me


me for strange


Joanie, fickle Joanie, give up Squire's son;
You wi' soon hate him
An' his silly whim,
An' your heart wi' yearn fe me when I am gone;
So, 'fo' 'tis too late,
Come back to your mate.


' The stepping stones in the river.


' Look after.




PLEADING 35

Joanie, when you're tired of dat worthless man,
You can come back still
Of your own free will:
Nummo1 girl dis true, true heart will understand ;
I wi' live so-so,2
Broken-hearted Joe.

An', Joan, in de days fe come I know you'll grieve
For de foolishniss
Dat you now call bliss:
Dere's no wrong you done me I would not forgive;
But you choice your way,
So, me Joan, good-day I

No other girl can understand. 2 Alone.
Choose, have chosen.











THE BITER BIT


[" Ole woman a swea' fe eat calalu :1 calalu a swea' fe wuk
him2 gut."-JAMAICA PROVERB.]

CORN an' peas growing' t'ick an' fas'
Wid nice blade peepin' through de grass;
An' ratta from dem hole a peep,
T'ink all de corn dem gwin' go reap.

Ole woman sit by kitchen doo'
Is watching' calalu a grow,
An' all de time a thinking dat
She gwin' go nyam dem when dem fat.4

But calalu, grow'n' by de hut,
Is swearin' too fe wuk him gut;
While she, like some, t'ink 6 all is right
When dey are in some corner tight.

Peas time come roun' -de corn is lef;
An' ratta now deh train himse'f
Upon de cornstalk dem a' night
Fe when it fit to get him bite.7
SSpinach. 2 His=her. 3 The rats. 4 Juicy.
Thinks; but it also means think," and so equally applies to the
plural subject. The time for harvesting the peas arrives.
7 And (every) rat now practices climbing the cornstalks at night, so
that he may get his bite when the corn is ripe.
36




THE BITER BIT


De corn-piece lie do'n all in blue,'
An' all de beard dem floatin' too
Amongst de yellow grain so gay,2
Dat you would watch dem a whole day.

An' ratta look at ebery one,
Swea'in' dat dem not gwin' lef none; 8
But Quaco know a t'ing or two,
An' swear say dat dem won't go so.

So him go get a little meal
An' something good fe those dat steal,
An' mix dem up an' 'pread dem out
For people possess fas' fas' mout'.6

Now ratta, coming' from dem nes',
See it an' say Dis food is bes';"
Dem nyam an' stop, an' nyam again,
An' soon lie do'n, rollin' in pain.

1 This refers to the bluish leaf of the maize.
SSupply "all this makes so pretty a picture."
3 They are not going to leave any.
4 Say" is redundant : it is tacked closely to swear."
5 For those who are too quick with their mouths.











OUT OF DEBT
DE Christmas is finish';
It was rather skinnish,'
Yet still we are happy, an' so needn' fret,
For dinner is cooking ,
An' baby is looking'
An' laughing ; she knows dat her pa owe no debt.
De pas' hab de debtor,'
An' we cannot get hers
To come back an' grin at us as in time gone:
Dere's no wine fe breakfast, '
An' no one fe mek fuss,
We all is contented fe suck one dry bone.
No two bit o' brater
Wid shopkeeper Marter,
I feel me head light sitting' down by me wife;
No weight lef behind' me
No gungu6 a line fe
De man who was usual7 to worry me life.
The fare was rather meagre.
SWe were in debt last Christmas, but now we are free.
SThe past. 4 The midday meal.
5 Shopkeeper Marter and I are no longer two brothers: meaning, I
am not always going into his shop, and so keeping in debt. Pronounce
brahter.
6 Friends plant their gungu (Congo peas) together, and, in picking
the crop, are not particular about the line between their properties.
When they cease to be friends, they have no gungo a line. The phrase
is equivalent to "to have no truck with."
7 Pronounce without sounding the second u. Was usual= used.
38




OUT OF DEBT


We're now out o' season,1
But dat is no reason
Why we shan't be happy wid heart free and light:
We feel we are better
Dan many dat fetter
Wid burden dey shoulder to mek Christmas bright.

Some 'crape out de cupboard,
Not 'memberin' no wud 2
Dat say about fegettin' when rainy day:
It comes widout warning
'Fo' daylight a8 martin',
An', wakin', de blue cloud ta'n black dat was gay.

De days dat gwin' follow
No more will be hollow,
Like some dat come after de Christmas before:
We'll lay by some money
An' lick at de honey,'
An' neber will need to lock up our front door.5

Jes' 6 look at de brightness
Of dat poor an' sightless
Old man on de barrel a playing' de flute:
Wha' mek him so joyful?
His lap is of toy full,
A pick'ninny play wid de patch on his suit.

1 Past Christmas.
2 Entirely oblivious of the proverb (word) which tells us not to forget
to make provision for the rainy day.
SIn the. Enjoy the pleasure it brings.
Against the bailiff. 6 Just.





40 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Ours too de same blessin',
An' we've learn' a lesson
We should have been learning' from years long ago:
A Christmas 'dout pleasure1
Gave dat darlin' treasure,2
An' duty to Milly is all dat we owe.


SWithout pleasure, i.e., a sober and quiet Christmas.
2 Our little pickny.










THE HERMIT


FAR in de country let me hide myself
From life's sad pleasures an' de greed of pelf,
Dwellin' wid Nature primitive an' rude,
Livin' a peaceful life of solitude.

Dere by de woodland let me build my home
Where tropic roses ever are in bloom,
An' through de wild cane2 growing' thick and tall
Rushes in gleeful mood de waterfall.

Roof strong enough to keep out season rain,3
Under whose eaves loved swallows will be fain
To build deir nests, an' deir young birdlings rear
Widouten have de least lee t ought of fear.'

An' in my study I shall view de wul',
An' learn of all its doin's to de full;
List to de woodland creatures' music sweet-
Sad, yet contented in my lone retreat.

SIn Jamaica any showy or sweet flower is called a rose.
2 Arundo Donax.
3 The heavy rains of May and October are called "season rains."
4 Without having the smallest (least little) thought of fear.











FETCHIN' WATER


WATCH how dem touris' like fe look
Out 'pon me little daughter,
Wheneber fe her tu'n 1 to cook
Or fetch a pan of water:
De sight look gay;
Dat is one way,
But I can tell you say,2
'Nuff rock'tone in de sea, yet none
But those 'pon lan' know bouten sun.3

De pickny coming' up de hill,
Fightin' wid heavy gou'd,4
Won't say it sweet 5 him, but he will
Complain about de load :
Him feel de weight,
Dem watch him gait;
It's so some of de great
High people fabour t'ink7 it sweet
Fe batter8 in de boilin' heat.
SIt is her turn. 2 The "say" is redundant.
3 In allusion to the Jamaica proverb, "Rock'tone (stone) a river
bottom no feel sun hot."
4 Struggling under his head-load-a gourd (calabash) filled with
water.
5 Is agreeable to. The tourists watch his upright carriage.
7 Favour think=seem to think.
6 Labour and sweat; toil and moil.
42




FETCHIN' WATER


Dat boy wid de karisene1 pan,
Sulky down to him toe,
His back was rollin' in a san', 2
For him pa mek him crow :8
Him feel it bad,
Near mek him mad,
But teach him4 he's a lad;
Go disobey him fader wud,'
When he knows dat his back would sud 16

But Sarah Jane she wus 'an all,
For she t'row 'way7 de pan,
An' jam her back against' de wall
Fe fight her mumma Fan:
Feelin' de pinch,
She mek a wrinch
An' get 'way; but de wench
Try fe put shame upon her ma,
Say dat she cook de bittle raw.8

Dis water-fetchin' sweet dem though
When day mek up dem min',
An' 'nuff o' dem 'tart out fe go,
An' de weader is fine:
De pan might leak,
Dem don't a 'peak,
Nor eben try fe seek
Some clay or so9 to mek it soun';
Dem don't care ef dem wet all roun'.
1 The favourite receptacle for water is a four-gallon kerosene tin
(pan).
2 In the sand. 3 Cry out. But it will teach him.
5 What ?-disobey his father's orders? 6 Get a lathering.
7 Threw down.
s Said that she cooked the victual raw, i.e., only half cooked it.
O Or something.





44 SONGS OF JAMAICA
D6n all 'bout de road dem 'catter
Marchin' Along quite at ease;
Dat time listen to deir chatter,
Talkin' anything dem please:
Dem don't a fear,
Neider a care,
For who can interfere ?
T'ree mile-five, six tu'n,'-an' neber
W'ary, but could do it s for eber.

Turns, i.e., journeys to the spring and back.
SFor rhythm, read thus: T'ree mile-five, six-tn'n, an'-neber.
3 Pronounce dweet.










SCHOOL-TEACHER NELL'S
LUB-LETTER

IF you promise to lub me always,
I will foreber be true,
An' you don't mek me sorry1 de day
Dat I give myself to you.

How I 'member de night when we meet,2
An' chat fe de first time of lub I
I go home, an' den neber could eat
None o' de plateful o' grub.

An' de day it was empty to me,
Wakin', but dreamin' of you,
While de school it was dull as could be,
An' me hate me wuk fe do.8

Oh, I knew of your lub long before
My school friends tell me of it,
And I watch at you from de school door,
When you pass to de cockpit.5

SMake me regret. 2 How well I remember the night we met.
SI hated the doing of my work. 4 Told.
SA natural depression in the ground, in the vicinity of the author's
home, bears this name.




6 SONGS OF JAMAICA

Den I hear too dat you use' fe talk,
Say,' if you caan ketch me dark night,
You would sure ketch me as me deh walk
In a de 8 open moonlight.

An' you' wud come to pass very soon,
For scarcely a mont' did gone
When de light of de star an' de moon
Shine 6 bright as we kiss all alone.

I can neber remember de times
Ma scolded her little Nell ;
All day her tongue wuks like de chimes
Dat come from de old school-bell.

I have given up school-life fe you :
Sweetheart, my all' is your own;
Den say you will ever be true,
An' live fe you' Nellie alone.
I Used to (talk and) say.
2 You would be sure to catch me as I walked. In the.
4 And your word came to pass. 5 Shone.
6 I cannot count the number of scoldings I have had from mamma.
7 Whole self.










NELLIE WHITE


(AN ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING)

SWEETHEART, I have loved you well,
More than dis lee tongue can tell,
An' you need not hab no fear,
For I'll marry you, my dear.

What are you talking' about?
Don't say that I'll play you out;
Swif ole Time, me Nell, will prove
Dat 'tis you alone I love.

Cry not, except 'tis for joy;
Can't you trus' dis big-heart boy?
Nell, I hate fe see you weep;
Tek my heart, an' go to sleep.

How could I deceive you, Nell?
Don't I love you much too well?
Could I fool dat plump black cheek?
Don't cry, darlin'-look up-speak I

SFalse,
47




48 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Nellie of the pretty feet
An' the palm-like shape so neat,
I have eyes to see but you ;
Darling, trust me to be true I

Nell, me dear, you need not fret,
For you are my food, my breat';
Trust me, trust me, Nellie White,
Kiss me, lee sweetheart-good-night!











RETRIBUTION


DE mule dem in de pasture an' de donkey 'pon red
groun',1
An' we boys mus' ketch dem all befo' de evening'
sun go do'n;
De tas' it isn't easy for de whole o' dem can run,
An' grass-lice8 lie do'n set.'

Grass-lice dat mek you trimble long time more
dan when you meet
A man dat mean to fight you who you know you
cannot beat;
Dem mek you feel you' blood crawl from you' head
do'n to you' feet,
An' wish dat you b'en wet.

An', like a 'pite,7 see all de mule a 'ketter through de
grass,
So chupidly a-followin' de foolish ole jackass;
But when you hea' we ketch dem, we wi' serve dem
such a sauce
By ridin' dem to deat'

1 Poor patchy land with open spaces of red earth. 2 Task.
3 Small ticks. Waiting for us. Long time=much.
SHad been, were. 7 As though to spite us.
49 D





50 SONGS OF JAMAICA
We breat' is partly givin' out 1 as up de hill we go
up;
De beast dem seem to understand' say Day longer
'an rope," 2
An' dat de night wi' come befo' we ketch dem is
deir hope;
But we shall conquer yet.

For though dem t'ink dem hab some sense, dem
all run right between
De rocky road above de swamp, where it hab eber
been
Our luck to nab dem in de trap dat neber can be
seen
By dem-Dey're in de net!

We hab dem pullin' on de bit as we race mile 'pon
mile,
An' grass-lice in we back a crawl an' 'ting us all de
while;
But blood is drippin' from dem mout', 'twill teach
dem not fe 8 vile,
We'll race dem out o' breat'.

SThree parts gone.
Ro-op, in two syllables. The proverb means, I'll be even with
you." 3 To be.










TO E. M. E.


You see' me smile: but what is it?
A sweetened pain-a laughing' fit-
A little honeyed dart,
That, passing, stabs my heart,
Yet mek me glad a bit.

You see me dance: 'twas but my feet,
You should have heard my heart a beat I
For none o' it was real:
It be'n a priceless 2 sale
Of bitter for a sweet.

Dis laughing' face I-'tis full o' joy
Because it is a baby's toy; 8
But when de child is gone
An' the darkness comes on,
'Twill be anudder boy.'

You hear me sing: what is de tune?
De song of one that's dyin' soon,
A whirlin', tossin' life
Flung on de wul' of strife;
I call it debil's boon."

Saw. 2 Profitless. 3 The speaker has a baby on his knee.
4 I shall look very different.




2 SONGS OF JAMAICA

De many pleasures ? Wha's de gain ?
I'll tell you of a grindin' pain
Dat companies de birt',
An' runs1 wid vengeance mirt'
De life, till it is slain.

Why do I sleep? My eyes know why,
Same how a life knows why it die : 8
Dey sleep on in distress,
Knowin' not why dey res',
But feeling' why dey cry.

I'm hungry now, so eat once mo',
E'en though I'll soon be like befo';
For, as in udder things,
De seemin' pleasure clings,
De cravin' has no cure.

It always seem so strange to me,
Dat you can satisfy 4 to be
A life whose daily food
Is pain: de only good,
Deat' dat will set it free.

1 Chases, hunts. 2 Vengeful.
3 My eyes no more know why, than a life knows why it dies.
4 Be content.










HARD TIMES


DE mo' me wuk, de mo' time hard,
I don't know what fe do;
I ben' me knee an' pray to Gahd,
Yet things same as befo'.

De taxes knockin' at me door,
I hear de bailiff's vice;
Me wife is sick, can't get no cure,
But gnawin' me like mice.'

De picknies hab to go to school
Widout a bite fe taste;
And I am working like a mule,
While buccra, sitting' in de cool,
Hab 'nuff nenyam fe waste.2

De clodes is tearin' off dem back
When money seems noa mek;
A man can't eben ketch a mac,3
Care how him 'train him neck.'

I Trying to get money from me. 2 Food and to spare.
3 Shilling : short for macaroni.
However hard he may strain his neck. Care how "-I don't care
how,-no matter how.





54 SONGS OF JAMAICA
De peas won't pop,' de corn can't grow,
Poor people face look sad;
Dat Gahd would cuss de lan' I'd know,
For black naygur too bad.

-I won't gib up, I won't say die,
For all8 de time is hard;
Aldough de wul' soon en', I'll try
My wutless4 best as time goes by,
An' trust on in me Gahd.

Spring. 2 People's faces. 3 Although.
Worthless: meaning, I'll try my very best, poor as that may be.











CUDJOE FRESH FROM DE LECTURE


'TOP one minute, Cous' Jarge, an' sit do'n 'pon de
grass,
An' mek a' tell you 'bout de news I hear at las',
How de buccra te-day tek time an' b6gin teach
All of us dat was deh 2 in a clear open speech.


You miss something fe true, but a wi' mek you
know,
As much as how a can, how de business a go:
Him tell us 'bout we self, an' mek we fresh again,
An' talk about de wul' from commencement to en'.


Me look 'pon me black 'kin, an' so me head grow
big,
Aldough me heaby han' dem hab fe plug4 an' dig;
For ebery single man, no car'6 about dem rank,
Him bring us ebery one an' put 'pon de same plank.

1 Make I= let me. s There.
Over: meaning, "He gave us a new view of our origin, and
explained that we did not come from Adam and Eve, but by evolution."
SPlough, i.e., pick up the ground with a pickaxe.
SCare : no matter what their rank.





56 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Say, parson do de same? Yes, in adift'ren' way,
For parson tell us how de whole o' we are clay;
An' looking' close at things, we hab to pray quite
hard
Fe swaller wha' him say an' don't t'ink bad o'
Gahd.


But dis man tell us straightt 'bout how. de whole
t'ing came,
An' show us widout doubt how Gahd was not fe
blame;
How change cause eberyt'ing fe mix up 'pon de heart ,
An' dat most hardship come through accident o'
birt'.


Him show us all a sort2 o' funny 'keleton,
Wid names I won't remember under dis ya sun ;
Animals queer to deat',8 dem bone, teet', an' head-
skull,
All dem so dat did live in a de ole-time wul'.


No 'cos say we get cuss mek fe we 'kin come so,
But fe all things come quaree, same so it was to go :
Seems our lan'6 must ha' been a bery low-do'n
place,
Mek it tek such long time in tu'ning out a race.

Do you say that parson does the same?
SAll sorts. s The queerest animals.
4 It is not because we were cursed (Gen. ix. 25) that our skin is
dark; but so that things might come square, there had to be black and
white. Aica.





CUDJOE FRESH FROM DE LECTURE 57

Yes, from monkey we spring: I believe ebery
wud;
It long time better dan fgo say we come from
mud:
No need me keep back part, me hab not'in' fe
gain;
It's ebery man dat. born de buccra mek it
plain.


It really strange how some o' de lan' dem advance;
Man power in some ways is nummo soso chance;
But suppose eberyt'ing could tu'n right upside
down,
Den p'raps we'd be on top an' givin' some one
houn'.2


Yes, Cous' Jarge, slabery hot fe dem dat gone
befo':
We getting' better times, for those days we no
know; s
But I t'ink it do good, tek we from Africa
An' lan' us in a blessed place as dis a ya.'

Talk 'bouten Africa, we would be deh till now,
Maybe same half-naked-all day dribe buccra cow,
An tearin' through de bush wid all de monkey dem,
Wile an' uncibilise',5 an' neber coming' tame.

SNo more than pure chance.
2 Hound: equivalent to the English slang phrase giving some one
beans."
' Do not know: have no experience of. This here.
SWild and uncivilised.




58 SONGS OF JAMAICA
I lef quite 'way from wha' we be'n deh talk about,'
Yet still a could' help-de wuds come to me
mout' ;
Just like how yeas' get strong an' sometimes fly de
cark,2
Same way me feelings grow, so I was boun' fe talk.

Yet both horse partly3 running' in de selfsame
gallop,
For it is nearly so de way de buccra pull up:
Him say, how de wul' stan', dat right will neber be,
But wrong will eber gwon till dis wul' en' fe we.

1 I have run right away from what we were talking about.
2 Makes the cork fly. 3 Almost. 4 Go on.










DE DAYS DAT ARE GONE
I T'INK of childhood days again,
An' wish dat I was free
To res' me baby head once more
Upon me mudder's knee:
If we had power to change dis life
An' live it back again,
We would be children all de time
Nor fret at childhood's pain.
I look on my school life of old,
Dem sweet days dat are pas',
An' wonder how I'd wish1 to see
Those dear times en' at las':
It was because I was a boy,
An' knew not what b'en good;
All time I tas'e de supple-jack,2
Bein' I was so rude.
An' o' de earnings when I woke,
'Fo' you can see you' han',
I mek me way on to de spring
Fe full 8 me bucket-pan:
I thought ofttimes dat it was hard
For me to wake so soon;
Dere was no star fe light de way,
Much more4 de white roun' moon.
II could wish. 2 A cane. 2 Fill. I Less.





6o SONGS OF JAMAICA
Still, childhood pain could neber las',
An' I remember yet
De many sorrows 'cross me pat'
Dat neber mek me fret:
But now me joys are only few,
I live because I'm boun',
An' try fe mek my life of use
Though pain lie all around .

I Across my path.










REVEILLE SOUN'IN'


REVEILLE de reveille soun',
Dep6t p'liceman mus' wake up ;
Some mus' dress fe go to town,
Some to Parade fe shake-up.2

You lazy ones can lay down still,
We have no time fe dat;
De wake-up8 coming' roun', an' you'll
Jump as you feel de cat.

For soon de half pas' dress4 will blow
Fe we to go a-drillin';
De time is bery short, an' so
We mus' be quick an' willing .

A marnin' bade is sweet fe true,5
But we mus' quick fe done;
It col' dough," so it's only few
Can stan' it how it bu'n.7

SRead thus: De-p6t p'lice-man mus'-wake up. Drill.
' The sergeant with his cane. 4 The 5.30 bugle.
. A morning bathe is very, very delicious. It's cold though.
7 Can stand the burning, i.e., the chill.




62 SONGS OF JAMAICA

'Tis quarter warning' soun'in' now,
Our arms mus' clean an' soun';
We will ketch 'port 2 ef we allow
A speck fe lodge around .

Tip8 blow yet? good Lard hear "fall in,"
Must double 'pon de grass;
I didn' know de las' call be'n
Deh blow on us so fas'.

I The 5.45 bugle.. 2 Get reported.
A short sharp bugle-call, to summon the men before the fall in."










OLD ENGLAND


I'VE a longin' in me dept's of heart dat I can
conquer not,
'Tis a wish dat I've been havin' from since I could
form a t'o't,1
'Tis to sail athwart the ocean an' to hear de billows
roar,
When dem ride around' de steamer, when dem beat
on England's shore.

Just to view de homeland England, in de streets
of London walk,
An' to see de famous sights dem 'bouten which
dere's so much talk,
An' to watch de fact'ry chimneys pourin' smoke up
to de sky,
An' to see de matches-children, dat I hear 'bout,
passing' by.

I would see Saint Paul's Cathedral, an' would hear
some of de great
Learnin' coming' from de bishops, preachin' relics
of old fait';

SThought.
63




64 SONGS OF JAMAICA
I would ope me mout' wid wonder at de massive
organ soun',
An' would 'train me eyes to see de beauty lyin'
all around .

I'd go to de City Temple, where de old fait' is
a wreck,
An' de parson is a-preachin' views dat most folks
will not tek;
I'd go where de men of science meet togeder in
deir hall,
To give light unto de real truths, to obey king
Reason's call.

I would view Westminster Abbey, where de great
of England sleep,
An' de solemn marble statues o'er deir ashes vigil
keep;
I would see immortal Milton an' de wul'-famous
Shakespeare,
Past'ral Wordswort', gentle Gray, an' all de great
souls buried dere.

I would see de ancient chair where England's
kings deir crowns put on,
Soon to lay dem by again when all de vanity is
done;
An' I'd go to view de lone spot where in peaceful
solitude
Rests de body of our Missis Queen,1 Victoria de
Good.,


I Always so called in Jamaica.




OLD ENGLAND 65

An' dese places dat I sing of now shall afterwards
impart
All deir solemn sacred beauty to a weary searching'
heart;
So I'll rest glad an' contented in me min'1 for
evermore,
When I sail across de ocean back to my own
native shore.

SMind.










DAT DIRTY RUM


IF you must drink it, do not come
An' chat up in my face ;
I hate to see de dirty rum,
Much more to know de tas'e.

What you find dere to care about
I never understand ;
It only dutty up you mout',
An mek you less a man.

I see it throw you 'pon de grass
An' mek you want no food,
While people scorn you as dey pass
An' see you vomit blood.

De fust beginning' of it all,
You stood up calm an' cool,
An' put you' back against' de wall
An' cuss our teacher fool.2

i To like.
Abused our schoolmaster and called him a fool. To cuss is to
" abuse ": to "cuss bad word" is to swear."
66




DAT DIRTY RUM


You cuss me too de se'fsame day
Because a say you wrong,'
An' pawn you' books an' went away
Widout anedder song.2

Your parents' hearts within dem sink,
When to your youthful lip
Dey watch you raise de glass to drink,
An' shameless tek each sip.

I see you in de dancing-booth,
But all your joy is vain,
For on your fresh an' glowin' youth
Is stamped dat ugly stain.

Dat ugly stain of drink, my frien',
Has cost you your best girl,
An' mek you fool 'mongst better men
When your brain's in a whirl.

You may smoke just a bit indeed,
I like de "white seal "8 well;
Aldough I do not use de weed,
I'm fond o' de nice smell.

But wait until you're growing' old
An' getting' weak an bent,
An' feel your blood a-gettin' cold
'Fo' you tek stimulent.


Because I said you were wrong.
The name of a brand of cigarettes.


2 Without another word.




68 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Then it may mek you stronger feel
While on your livin' groun';
But ole Time, creepin' on your heel,
Soon, soon will pull you down:

Soon, soon will pull you down, my frien',
De rum will help her 2 too;
An' you'll give way to better men,
De best dat you can do.8

1 While in this life. 2 Time.
a Which is the best thing you can do.











HEART-STIRRINGS


You axe me as de bell begin fe 'trike,
Me Mikey, ef de wuk a didn' like;
De queshton, like de bell, soun' in me heart
Same how de anvil usual mek me 'tart.1

You's a chil' 2 an' know naught 'bout de wul' yet,
But you'll grow an' larn things you won't feget;
You lub you' life, an' t'ink dere's nuttin' better,
Yet all you' pickny dream dem soon will 'ketter.8

Tek me advice ya, chil', an' as you grow
Don't choose a wuk dat you no like : aldough
You might see money in o' it, at lengt'
You will get tired o' it an' repent.

A suffer, but I t'ink it mek me wise;
It wasn' fe de money 'trike me yeyes,'
But "water mo' 'an flour" is true wud,
An' eye-water run too long tu'n to blood.6

I Just as the sound of an anvil-the speaker was a blacksmith-
makes me start and arouses disagreeable recollections, so does your
question. I Child. s Scatter.
4 It wasn't the attraction of the high wages.
S" Beggars can't be choosers." The reference is to dumplings made
with too much water.
e This means that he (the speaker) was unhappy at home.
69





70 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Hard life caan' kill me, but annoyance might,
Me lub me right, an' fe it me wi' fight:
Me wi' lef beef fe nyam an' choose cow-lung,
Fe sabe meself from an annoying tongue.'

But sometime', chil', you jump from fryin'-pan
'Traight in a fire; an, try as you can,
You caan' come out, but always wishin' den
Fe get back in de fryin'-pan again.

Ole Buccra Dabis, libing easy life,
One night get mad an' kill himself an' wife;
Den we hear things we neber be'n know yet,
De buccra man was ears an' han's in debt.

Miss Laura lean back in her rockin'-chair
So sweet dat we might jes' t'ink she no care
'Bout naught; yet some say dat 'cos she caan' get
Mas' Charley fe him husband 2 she deh fret.

Dat's how life 'tan', 8 me chil'; dere is something
Deep down in we dat you can neber bring
People, however wise, fe understand :
Caan' feel man heart same how you feel dem han'.

Fe lub, me chil', lub wha' you natur' hate !4-
You'll live in misery, prayin' hard fe fait',
Which won't come eben ef you 'crub you' knees
In fifty quart o' corn an' lady-peas.6

1 Prov. xv. 17; xvii. I. Master Charley for her husband.
s Stands=is.
If you try to make yourself love what your nature hates. This line
is partly an exclamation, partly an interrogation.
Black-eye peas.




HEART-STIRRINGS


Fe hate a t'ing you whole min' come in one:
You try fe keep it1 back much as you can,
But "flesh caan' conquer permit Bible say,
You hab fe give it up,2 an' den 'top pray.

Me carry hell, me chil', in a me ches',
Me laugh, me cry, me could' get no res';
Eat all de same an' neber fatter less
Dan now, aldough me min' was so distress'.

An' though a feel it hard, a would' fret;
Me min' don't mek so, but it eber set
Fe conquer, yet it could' wash away
De thoughts dem dat come strongerr ebery day.

You 'stan',' me chil'? I caan' explain it mo':
Life funny bad, so is de ways also;
For what we t'ink is right is often wrong,
We live in sorrow as we journey 'long.

1 The hatred. 2 Give up trying.
3 Less fat. 4 Do you understand ?










DE DOG-ROSE


GROWIN' by de corner-stone,1
See de pretty flow'r-tree blows,
Sendin' from de prickly branch
A lubly bunch o' red dog-rose.2
An' de bunch o' crimson red,
Boastin' on de dark blue tree,
Meks it pretty, prettier yet
Jes' as dat dog-rose can be.8
Young Miss Sal jes'4 come from school:
Freddy, fresh from groun' an' grub,
Pick de dog-rose off de tree,
Gib Miss Sal to prove his lub.
Then I watch on as dem kiss
Right around' de corner-stone,
An' my heart grow vex' fe see
How dem foolish when alone.
An' I listen to deir talk,
As dey say dey will be true ;
SEber true I hear dem pledge,
An' dat naught can part dem two.
1 Angle of the house. 2 A dark red sweet-rose.
SMakes it pretty-as pretty as it is possible for a dog-rose to be.
' Just.




DE DOG-ROSE


De petchary laugh an' jig,
Sittin' on a bamboo low;
Seems him guess, jes' like mese'f
How de whole t'ing gwin' fe go.

Time gwon,2 an' de rose is not:
I see Fred, wi' eyes all dim,
Huggin' up de corner-stone,
For his love has jilted him;

Left him for anedder man
Wid a pile o' money,
Dat he carried from his land
O' de Injin coney. 8

Wonder whe' de petchary ?
De rose-tree is dead an' gone ;
Sal sit in de big great-house,'
Cooin' to her baby son.

1 Grey king-bird. I Goes on; passes away.
3 England or Scotland, the home of the Indian coney (common
rabbit)-pronounced cunny.
4 The principal house on a property is so called.











A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE
BOBBY


No palm me up,' you dutty brute,
You' jam mout' mash 2 like ripe bread-fruit;
You fas'n now, but wait lee ya,8
I'll see you grunt under de law.


You t'ink you wise,' but we wi' see;
You not de fus' one fas' wid me;
I'll lib fe see dem tu'n you out,
As sure as you got dat mash' mout'.


I born right do'n beneath' de clack5
(You ugly brute, you tu'n you' back?)
Don' t'ink dat I'm a come-aroun',6
I born right 'way in 'panish Town.


SDon't put your hands on me. 2 Your d-d mouth isall awry.
3 You are fast (meddling, officious) now, but wait a little, d'you
hear ?
You think you're wise.
6 The clock on the public buildings at Spanish Town.
6 Day-labourers, men and women, in Kingston streets and wharves,
famous for the heavy weights they carry, are called come-arounds.





A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE BOBBY 75

Care how you try, you caan' do mo'
Dan many dat was hyah befo'; 1
Yet whe' dey all o' dem te-day ? 2
De buccra dem no kick dem 'way ?

Ko4 'pon you' jam samplatta5 nose:
'Cos you wear Mis'r Koshaw clo'es6
You t'ink say you's de only man,'
Yet fus' time8 ko how you be'n 'tan'.'

You big an' ugly ole tu'n-footx0
Be'n neber know fe wear a boot;
An' chigger nyam you' tumpa toe,"
Till nit full i' like herrin' roe.

You come from mountain naked-'kin,12
An' Lard a mussy I you be'n thin,
For all de bread-fruit dem be'n done,
Bein' 'poil' up by de tearin' sun :1s

No matter how you try, you can't do more than your predecessors
(all that were here before).
2 Yet where are they all to-day?
s Did not the buccra (white man) kick them away (dismiss them) ?
Look.
5 A piece of leather cut somewhat larger than the size of the foot,
and tied sandal-wise to it: said of anything that is flat and broad.
6 Mr Kershaw's clothes, i.e., police uniform. Col. Kershaw.
Inspector-General of Police in 1911 (when this poem was written)
and for many years before.
7 A mighty fine fellow. When I knew you first.
9 Look what sort of figure you cut. 10 Turned-in foot.
And chigoes (burrowing fleas) had eaten into your maimed toe,
and nits (young chigoes) had filled it.
V' Naked skin, i.e., with your shirt and trousers full of holes.
18 Having been spoilt by the hot sun. Pronounce beinn"' as a
monosyllable.





76 SONGS OF JAMAICA
De coco could' bear at all,
For, Lard de groun' was pure white-marl;
An' through de rain part s o' de year
De mango tree dem could' bear.

An' when de pinch o' time you feel
A 'pur you a you' chigger heel,3
You lef you' district, big an' coarse,
An' come join' buccra Police Force.

An' now you don't wait fe you' glass,6
But trouble me wid you' jam fas' ;
But wait, me frien', you' day wi' come,
I'll see you go same lak a some.7

Say wha'?-'res' me?8-you go to hell I
You t'ink Judge don't know unno well?9
You t'ink him gwin' go sentence10 me
Widout a soul fe witness i'?

SAn edible root (Colocasia antiguorum)..
s During some months.
SAnd when you felt hard times spurring you in your chigger-eaten heel.
Came and joined.
You don't wait for the right and proper moment.
With all your infernal forwardness and officiousness.
7 Same like some =just as others before you did.
8 What's that?-arrest me?
SD'you think the magistrate doesn't know your tricks ? Unno or
Onnoo is an African word, meaning you" collectively.
o1 Pronounce the a ah,' but without accent.










MOTHER DEAR
HUSBAN', I am goin'-
Though de brooklet is a-flowin',
An' de coolin' breeze is blowin'
Softly by;
Hark, how strange de cow is mooin',
An' our Jennie's pigeons cooin',
While I feel de water 1 growing ,
Climbing high.
"Akee trees are laden,
But de yellow leaves are fadin'
Like a young an' bloomin' maiden
Fallen low;
In de pond ce ducks are wadin'
While my body longs for Eden,8
An' my weary breat is gledin'
'Way from you.
"See dem John-crows 4 flyin'!
'Tis a sign dat I am dyin';
Oh, I'm'wishful to be lyin'
All alone:

I The water of dropsy rising from the legs towards the heart.
2 Cupania sapida, bearing beautiful red fruits.
3 To English readers this and the next (gledin'=gliding) would
hardly seem to be rhymes. Nevertheless they are so.
4 Turkey-buzzards.




78 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Fait'ful husband don't go cryin',
Life is one long self-denyin'
All-surrenderin' an' sighin'
Livin' moan.

"Wife, de parson's prayin',
Won't you listen what he's sayin',
Spend de endin' of your day in
Christ our Lord ?"
But de sound of horses neighin',
Baain' goats an' donkeys brayin',
Twitt'rin' birds an' children playing'
Was all she heard.

Things she had been rearin',
Only those could claim her hearing ,
When de end we had been fearin'
Now had come:
Now her last pain she is bearin',
Now de final scene is nearin',
An' her vacant eyes are starin'
On her home.' *

Oh I it was heart-rendin'
As we watched de loved life endin',
Dat sweet sainted spirit bendin'
To de death:
Gone all further hope of mendin',
With de angel Death attending ,
An' his slain' spirit blendin'
With her breath.

i The spot in the garden she had chosen for her burial-place.










KITE-FLYING


HIGHER fly, my pretty kite,
Over distant towers;
Paper-made, red, blue an' white,
All my favorite colours.1

As up an' up an' up you mount
On your way to heaven,
Thoughts come, which I cannot count,
Of the times I've striven

Just to soar away like you,
Rising to a happier sphere
Deep within yon skies of blue,
Far from all de strife an' care.

You have got you' singer2 on,
Let me hear your singing,
Hear you' pleasant bee-like tone
On de breezes ringing.

The 1 is swallowed, and the rhyme is good.
2 A strip of paper shaped like a half moon, and stretched on a thread
running from one top corner of the kite to the other.




8o SONGS OF JAMAICA
Wider dash your streamin' tail,
Keep it still a-dancin' !
As across de ditch you sail,
By the tree-tops glancin'.

Messengers1 I send along,
Lee round papers of bright red ;
Up they go to swell you' song,
Climbin' on the slimber 2 t'read.

Higher fly, my pretty kite,
Higher, ever higher;
Draw me with you to your height
Out the earthly mire.

Round slips of paper, which go twirling up the kite-string.
SSlender.











IONE


SAY if you lub me, do tell me truly,
lone, lone;
For, O me dearie, not'in' can part we,
lone, lone.

Under de bamboo, where de fox-tail' grew,
lone, lone,
While de cool breeze blew-sweet, I did pledge
you,
lone, lone.

Where calalu grows, an' yonder brook flows,
lone, lone,
I held a dog-rose under your li'l8 nose,
lone, lone.

There where de lee stream plays'wid de sunbeam,
lone, lone,
True be'n de love-gleam as a sweet day-dream,
lone, lone.

SA grass with heavy plumes.
2 Spmach, but not the English kind. Little.
81 F




82 SONGS OF JAMAICA

Watchin' de bucktoe under de shadow,
lone, lone,
Of a pear-tree low dat in de stream grow,
lone, lone,

Mek me t'ink how when we were lee children,
lone, lone,
We used to fishen 2 in old Carew Pen,s
Ione, lone.

Like tiny meshes, curl your black tresses,
lone, lone,
An' my caresses tek widout blushes,
lone, lone.

Kiss me, my airy winsome lee fairy,
lone, lone;
Are you now weary, little canary,
lone, lone?

Then we will go, pet, as it is sunset,
lone, lone;
Tek dis sweet vi'let, we will be one yet,
lone, lone.
'Small crawfish. 2 Fish.
3 The Jamaican equivalent for ranch.










KILLING' NANNY


Two little pickny is watching ,
While a goat is led to deat';
Dey are little ones of two years,
An' know naught of badness yet.
De goat is bawlin' fe mussy,1
An' de children watch de.sight
As de butcher re'ch 2 his sharp knife,
An' 'tab8 wid all his might.
Dey see de red blood flowin';
An' one chil' trimble an' hide
His face in de mudder's bosom,
While t'udder look on wide-eyed.
De tears is falling' down hotly
From him on de mudder's knee;
De udder wid joy is starin',
An' clappin' his han's wid glee.
When dey had forgotten Nanny,
Grown men I see dem again ;
An' de forehead of de laugher
Was brand'4 wid de mark of Cain.
SMercy. g Reaches, lays hold of. Stabs.
* Branded.










MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME

DERE is no land dat can compare
Wid you where'er I roam;
In all de wul' none like you fair,
My native land, my home.

Jamaica is de nigger's place,
No mind whe' some declare;
Although dem call we no-land race,"
I know we home is here.

You give me life an' nourishment,
No udder land I know;
My lub I neber can repent,
For all to you I owe.

E'en ef you mek me beggar die,
I'll trust you all de same,
An' none de less on you rely,
Nor saddle you wid blame.

Though you may cas' me from your breas'
An' trample me to deat',
My heart will trus' you none de less,
My land I won't feget.
SCast.
84




MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME 85
An' I hope none o' your sons would
Refuse deir strength' to lend,
An' drain de last drop o' deir blood
Their country to defend.

You draw de t'ousan' from deir shore,
An' all 'long keep dem please';
De invalid come here fe cure,
You heal all deir disease.

Your fertile soil grow all o' things2
To full de naygur's wants,
'Tis seamed wid neber-failing springs8
To give dew to de plants.'

You hab all things fe mek life bles',
But buccra 'poil de whole
Wid gove'mint6 an' all de res',
Fe worry naygur soul.

Still all dem little chupidness
Caan' tek away me lub;
De time when I'll tu'n 'gains' you is
When you can't give me grub.

SAnd keep them amused and happy all along (all the time of their
stay).
All of (the) things. Brooks.
4 The dew falls heavily in the valley-bottoms. Government.
SThose little stupidnesses.










TWO-AN'-SIX


MERRY voices chatterin',
Nimble feet dem patternn,
Big an' little, faces gay,
Happy day dis market day.
Sateday de marnin' break,
Soon, soon market-people wake;
An' de light shine from de moon
While dem boy, wid pantaloon
Roll up ober dem knee-pan,
'Tep across de buccra lan'
To de pastur whe' de harse
Feed along wid de jackass,
An' de mule cant' in de track 4
Wid him tail up in him back,
All de ketchin' to defy,
No ca' how 5 dem boy might try.
In de early marnin'-tide,
When de cocks crow on de hill
An' de stars are shinin' still,
Mirrie by de fireside
SSaturday. 2 Step. : Where the horse.
SCanters in the track. A Jamaican pasture is seamed with tracks
made by the animals in walking.
I don't'care how ; no matter how.
86





TWO-AN'-SIX


Hots1 de coffee for de lads
Comin' ridin' on de pads
T'rown across dem animul-
Donkey, harse too, an' de mule,
Which at last had come do'n cool.2
On de bit dem hol' dem full:
Racin' ober pastur' lan',
See dem coming' ebery man,
Comin' fe de steamin' tea
Ober hilly track an' lea.

Hard-wuk'd donkey on de road
Trottin' wid him ushal load,-
Hamper5 pack' wi' yam an' grain,
Sour-sop,6 an' Gub'nor cane.7

Cous' Sun8 sits in hired dray,
Drivin' 'long de market way;
Whole week grindin' sugar-cane
Through de boilin' sun an' rain,
Now, a'ter9 de toilin' hard,
He goes seeking' his reward,
While he's thinking' in him min'
Of de dear ones lef behind ,
Of de loved though ailin' wife,
Darlin' treasure of his life,
An' de picknies, six in all,
Whose 'nuff 1 burdens 'pon him fall:

1 Warms. 2 Given up his skittishness.
3 Generic name for any non-alcoholic hot drink.
4 Usual, pronounced without the second u. Panniers.
6 Anona muricata-a fruit.
7 Governor cane; a yellow-striped sugar-cane.
8 Cousin James. Sun is the regular nickname for James.
9 After. 1o Enough=many.




88 SONGS OF JAMAICA

Seben I lovin' ones in need,
Seben hungry mouths fe feed;
On deir wants he thinks alone,
Neber dreamin' of his own,
But gwin' on wid joyful face
Till him re'ch2 de market-place.

Sugar bears no price te-day,
Though it is de mont' o' May,
When de time is hellish hot,
An' de water-cocoanut8
An' de cane bebridge is nice,
Mix' up wid a lilly ice.5
Big an' little, great an' small,
Afou yam is all de call ;6
Sugar tup an' gill7 a quart,
Yet de people hab de heart
Wantin' brater8 top o' i',
Want de sweatin' higgler fe
Ram de pan an' pile i' up,
Yet sell i' fe so-so tup.9

Cousin Sun is looking' sad,
As de market is so bad;
'Pon him han' him res' him chin,
Quietly sit do'n thinking'

Seven, 2 Till he reaches.
3 Immature cocoanut, the milk of which is a delicious drink.
4 Beverage. 5 Mixed up with a little ice.
The variety of yam called "ahfoo" is the thing principally asked
for by young and old.
7 Tup twopencee of the old Jamaica coinage) is ixd: gill, Id.
So "tup and gill" is 21d.
SInsist on having brahler, a little extra on top of (over) the quart.
o Sell it for a bare tup.




TWO-AN'-SIX


Of de loved wife sick in bed,
An' de children to be fed-
What de labourers would say
When dem know him could' pay;
Also what about de mill
Whe' him hire 1 from ole Bill;
So him think, an' think on so,
Till him thoughts no more could go.

Then he got up an' began
Pickin' up him sugar-pan :2
In his ears rang through de din
"Only two-an'-six a tin !"
What a tale he'd got to tell,
How bad, bad de sugar sell I

Tekin' out de lee amount,
Him set do'n an' begin count;
All de time him min' deh doubt
How expenses would pay out;
Ah, it gnawed him like de ticks,
Sugar sell fe two-an'-six !

So he journeys on de way,
Feelin' sad dis market day;
No e'en buy 4 a little cake
To gi'e baby when she wake,-
Passin' 'long de candy-shop
'Douten eben mek a stop
To buy drops fe las'y5 son,
For de lilly cash nea' done.

1 Which he hires, or hired. 2 His sugar pans (tins).
3 His mind is doubting. Doesn't even buy.
I Lasty (lahsty), pet name for the Benjamin of a family.




SONGS OF JAMAICA
So him re'ch him own a groun',
An' de children scamper roun',
Each one stretchin' out him han',
Lookin' to de poor sad man.
Oh, how much he felt de blow,
As he watched dem face fall low,
When dem wait an' nuttin' came
An' drew back deir han's wid shame !
But de sick wife kissed his brow :
"Sun, don't get down-hearted now;
Ef we only pay expense
We mus' wuk we common-sense,
Cut an' carve, an' carve an' cut,
Mek gill sarbe fe quattiewut';
We mus' try mek two ends meet
Neber mind how hard be it.
We won't mind de haul an' pull,
While dem pickny belly full."2

An' de shadow lef him face,
An' him felt an inward peace,
As he blessed his better part
For her sweet an' gentle heart:
" Dear one o' my heart, my breat',
Won't I lub you to de deat'?
When my heart is weak an' sad,
Who but you can mek it glad ?"

So dey kissed an' kissed again,
An' deir thoughts were not on pain,
But was 'way down in de sout'
Where dey'd wedded in deir yout',
I Make id. serve forquattieworth, lid.
2 If only the children have enough to eat.




TWO-AN'-SIX 91

In de martin' of deir life
Free from all de grief an' strife,
Happy in de martin' light,
Never thinking' of de night.

So dey k'lated 1 eberyt'ing;
An' de profit it could bring,
A'ter all de business fix',2
Was a princely two-an'-six.

1 Calculated.
2 After all the business was fixed, i.e., when the accounts were made
up.










COMPENSATION


DERE is a rest-place for de weary feet,
An' for de bitter cup a conquering sweet:
For sore an' burdened hearts dere'll be a balm,
And after days of tempest comes a calm.

For every smallest wrong dere is a right,
An' through de dark shall gleam a ray of light:
Oppression for a season may endure,
But 'tis true wud, For ebery ill a cure."

Den let me not t'ink hard of those who use
Deir power tyrannously an' abuse :
Let me remember always while I live,
De noblest of all deeds is to forgive.

This, not revenge, is sweet: this lifs1 de soul
An' meks it wort' while in a empty wul':
Far better than an old an' outworn creed
'Tis each day to do one such noble deed.

I Lifts. 2 Something worth.











HEARTLESS RHODA


Kiss me, as you want it so;
Lub me, ef it wort' de while;
Yet I feel it an' I know 2
Dat, as through de wul' you go,
You will oft look back an' smile
At de things which you now do.
Tek me to de church te-day,
Call me wife as you go home;
Hard fate, smilin' at us, say 8
Dat de whole is so-so play;
Soon de ushal en' will come,
An' we both will choice' our way.
* *

Spare you' breat', me husband' true,
I be'n marry you fe fun :6
Lub dat las' long is a few, 6
An' I hadn' much fe you.
I be'n tell you it would done,7
All whe' come is wha' you do. 8
SLove me, if it is worth while, i.e. if you think it worth while.
2 Yet I feel and know. S Says.
4 Choose, i.e, go our several ways.
6 I married you with no serious purpose. Seldom met with.
7 I did tell (told) you it would soon come to an end.
I All that has happened is your doing.
93





94 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Life I only care to see
In de way dat udders' live;
I experiment to be
All dat fate can mek o' me :
Glad I tek all whe' she give,
For I'm hopin' to be free.

SOthers.
2 A free paraphrase will best explain the meaning of these six
lines. Rhoda sees other girls marry, and out of pure curiosity she
wants to find out what married life is like. So she makes the
experiment,-though this [marriage] is only one of the things that
Fate has in store for her. And she takes gladly whatever Fate gives,
always hoping (and meaning) to change the present experience for
another.











A DREAM


THE roosters give the signal for daybreak,
And through my window' pours the grey of
morn ;
Refreshing breezes fan me as I wake,
And down the valley sounds the wesly 2 horn.

Day broadens, and I ope the window wide,3
And brilliant sunbeams, mixing, rush between
The gaping blinds, while down at my bedside
I kneel to utter praise to the Unseen.

The torch-light glistens through the wattle-pane,'
And clouds of smoke wreathe upward to the
skies;
My brother at the squeezer juices cane,5
And visions of tea-hour before me rise.

i The window is a jalousie, and its blinds (slats) are shut.
2 Word of uncertain origin. The wcsly horn sounds when any work
in common is to be undertaken.
s Throw the slats into a horizontal position.
4 The bedroom is separated from the kitchen by panes of undaubed
wattle, through which is seen the glimmer of the burning torch-wood.
5 At the squeezer (a rough home-made machine) is extracting juice
from sugar-canes.





96 SONGS OF JAMAICA
Leaving the valley's cup the fleeting fog
Steals up the hill-sides decked with sunbeams
rare,
Which send their search-rays neathh the time-worn
log,
And drive the sleeping majoes' from their lair.

But there are some that yest'reve was the last
For them to sleep into their watery bed;
For now my treacherous fish-pot has them fast,
Their cruel foe which they had so long dread'.2

Right joyfully I hear the school-bell ring,
And by my sister's side away I trot;
I'm happy as the swee-swees on the wing,
And feel naught but contentment in my lot.

I lightly gambol on the school-yard green,
And where the damsel's" by the bamboo grove
In beautiful and stately growth are seen,
For tiny shiny star-apples I rove.
*

The morning wind blows softly past my door,
And we prepare for work with gladsome heart;
Sweetly the wesly horn resounds once more,
A warning that 'tis time for us to start.

SPronounce the ma as in French-fresh-water shrimps, which live in
the bill-side brooklets.
2 Whom for so long a time they had dreaded.
Quits. The name imitates their chirping song.
I The damsel (corruption of damson, probably) is like a small star-
apple.




A DREAM


I scamper quickly 'cross the fire-burnt soil,
And the coarse grass-tufts prick my tender feet;
I watch my father at his honest toil,
And wonder how he stands the sun's fierce heat.

A winding footpath down the woodland leads,
And through the tall fox-tails I wend my way
Down to the brooklet where the pea-dove feeds,
And bucktoes' in the water are at play.

And watching as the bubbles rise and fall,
I hear above the murmur of the dale
The tropic music dear to great and small,
The joyous outburst of the nightingale.


Gone now those happy days when all was blest,
For I have left my home and kindred dear;
In a strange place I am a stranger's guest,
The pains, the real in life, I've now to bear.

No more again I'll idle at my will,
Running the mongoose down upon the lea;
No more I'll jostle2 Monty up the hill,
To pick the cashews8 off the laden tree.

I feel the sweetness of those days again,
And hate, so hate, on the past scenes to look;
All night in dreaming comes the awful pain,
All day I groan beneath the iron yoke.

1 Small crawfish.
2 Race and foul. 3 A fruit (Anacardium occidentale.




98 SONGS OF JAMAICA
In mercy then, ye Gods, deal me swift death !
Ah I you refuse, and life instead you give;
You keep me here and still prolong my breath,
That I may suffer all the days I live.



'Tis home again, but not the home of yore;
Sadly the scenes of bygone days I view,
And as I walk the olden paths once more,
My heart grows chilly as the morning dew.

But see to-day again my life is glad,
My heart no more is lone, nor will it pine;
A comfort comes, an earthly fairy clad
In white, who guides me with her hand in mine.

Her lustrous eyes gleam only tender love,
And viewing her, an angel form I see;
I feed my spirit on my gentle dove,
My sweetheart Lee, my darling Idalee.1

And where the peenies glow with greenish fire,
We kiss and kiss and pledge our hearts as true;
Of sweet love-words and hugs we never tire,
But felt more sorry that they were so few.



SThis tacking of a syllable on to well-known names is common in
Jamaica.




A DREAM 99
I leave my home again, wand'ring afar,
But goes with me her true, her gentle heart,
Ever to be my hope, my guiding star,
And whisperings of comfort to impart.

Methinks we're strolling by the woodland stream,
And my frame thrills with joy to hear her sing:
But, O my God 'tis all-'tis all a dream;
This is the end, the rude awakening.










RISE AND FALL


[Thoughts of Burns-with apologies to his immortal spirit for
making him speak in Jamaica dialect.]

DEY read 'em again an' again,
An' laugh an' cry 2 at 'em in turn;
I felt I was getting' quite vain,
But dere was a lesson fe learn.

My poverty quickly took wing,
Of life no experience had I;
I could' then want anything
Dat kindness or money could buy.

Dey tek me away from me lan',
De gay o' de wul' to behold,
An' roam me through palaces gran',
An' show'red on me honour untold.

I went to de ballroom at night,
An' danced wid de belles of de hour;
Half dazed by de glitterin' light,
I lounged in de palm-covered bower.

1 Preterite. 8 Laughed and cried.
100




Full Text

PAGE 1

SONGS OF JAMAICA

PAGE 2

CLA UUE .\I'KAY. (Plroto by Cleary )

PAGE 3

SONGS OF JAMAICA BY CLA UDE McKAY WITH AN INTROD UCTION BY WALTER JEKYLL AUTHOR OF SONG AND STORY" KINGSTON, JAMAICA ASTON W. GARDNER & CO. LONDON JAMAICA AGENCY GAMAGE BUILDING, HOLDORN

PAGE 4

TO HIS EXCELLENCY SIR SYDNEY OLIVIER, K.C.M.G., GOVERNOR OF JAMAICA WHO BY HIS SVMPATHY WITH THE BLACK RACE HAS WON THE LOVE AND ADMIRATION OF ALL JAMAICANS, THIS VOLUME IS BY PERMISSION RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED. [A tl rt"gltts reserved]

PAGE 5

PREFACE WHAT Italian is to Latin, that in regard to English is the negro variant thereof. It shortens, softens, rejects the harder sounds alike of consonants and vowels; I might almost say, refines. In its soft tones we have an expression of the languorous of the South: it is a feminine version of masculine English; pre-eminently a language of love, as all will feel who, setting prejudice aside, will allow the charmingly na'ive love-songs of this volume to make their due impression upon them. But this can only happen when the verses are read aloud, and those unacquainted with the Jamaican tongue may therefore welcome a few hints as to pronunciation. As a broad general direction, let it be observed that the vowels have rather the continental than the English sounds, while in the matter of the consonants the variation froin English is of the nature of a pretty lisp. The exact values of the vowels cannot, of course, pe described, but they approximate on the whole more to those of Italy and France than to those 5

PAGE 6

6 PREFACE of England. One sound, that of aw, is entirely rejected, and ah is substituted for it. Thus bawl, law, call, daughter, etc., become bahl, lah, cahi, d ahter, etc. In the word whe', which sometimes means where and somet im es which, the e has the same sound a s in the word met. Deh is similarly pro noun ced, and the e is quite a short one, the h being added merely to distinguish del t from d e (the). This short e often takes the place of the close English a, a s in tek (take), mek (make). My is almost invariably pronounced with a short y, and, to remind the reader of this, it is constantly spelt me. Fe-generally meaning to, but some times .for-matches this short my exactly. In caan' (can't) the a is doubled in order to ensure the pronunciation cahn. It is difficult to convey the exact value of do'tt (down), groun' (ground). There i s a faint trace of ng at the end of these words, and they rhyme to tongue pronounced very shortly and w ith a dumber vowe l sound. Vowels are sometimes changed out of mere caprice, as it seems. Thus we have if for if, trimble for tremble, anedder for anudder (another), stt"mulent for stimulant, a-pronounced short-for I, sperit for spirit. In ya, originally meaning d'you hear-but now thrown in just to fill up, like the don't you know of certain a is a short alt. We come now to the consonants. Bearing in

PAGE 7

PREFACE 7 mind what was said above of the pretty lisp, let the d so often-generally, we may say-substituted for th, be of the very softest, as it were a th turning towards d, or to put it in another way, a lazily pronounced tho The negro has no difficulty whatever in pronouncing it clearly: it is merely that he does not, as a rule, take the trouble to do so. In these poems the, they, there, with, etc., are not always written de, dey, dere, wid, etc. j and the reader is at liberty to turn any soft th into d, and any d into soft tho And here let me remark, in passing, that in one breath the black man will pronounce a word in his own way, and in the next will articulate it as purely as the most refined Englishman. Where the substitution of d makes the word unrecognisable, as in moder (mother), oders (others), the spelling mudder, udders is resorted to j and for fear of confusion with well known words, though, thos e are always written thus, although generally pronounced, dough, dose As d supplants the soft th, so does a simple t supplant the hard one j as in t'ing, not'ing (or nuttin' ,-for the g in words of two or more syllables is very commonly left out), t'ink, tick, t'rough, m e t'od, wutless (worthless). V tends to pass into b, as in lub (love), hab, lz'b, ebe ry, neber, cultibatt'on. Vex, though so written for the most part, is pronounced either with a decided b or with some compromise between that and v. Of elisions, the commonest is that of the initial s when followed by another consonant. Thus start,

PAGE 8

8 PREFACE spread, stop, scrape, spoit, sting, skin, etc., become 'tart, 'pread, 'top, 'crape, 'poil, 'tz'ng, 'kin, etc. Final d's are often dropped, as in lan', t'ousan', please' (pleased) and other past participles, min', chi l'-in the se let care be taken to keep the long sound of the z'-wul' (world), wud (word), en' Final ,'s also i as in breas', cas', 'gains' (against), i' (it), l as' wha' wus' (worst), tas'e (taste). Present participl es, passin', brukin' (breaking), outpourz'n', etc., lose their g's i and final k's some times di sappear, as in tas'. R's, too, as in you' for your, mo' for more, befo' or simply 'fo' for before: and they are even thrown out from the middle of words, as in wuk (work) tu'n (turn), wud (word). Wz'll occasionally loses its l's and becomes wt. Initial vowels have also a habit of vanishing: as in b out (about), 'long (along), 'way (away), nuff (enough), 'pon (upon) i but the elision of these and of longer first syllables is sometimes made up by tacking something to the end, and for about, without, because we get 'bou/en 'douten, 'causen. On the construction of the language it is unnecessary to dwell, for it is fully explained in the notes, and the reader will soon master the mysteries of bin with its various significations, z's, was, were, Ilfzve bem, had been, did (as sign of the past tense) i of deh, which may be either an adverb ( there ) or an auxiliary verb as in me delz beg ( I am begging) i of dem tacked close to its noun, to show it is plural i of tenses apparently past which are present, and apparently present which are past: for the

PAGE 9

PREFACE 9 unravelling of all which the needful help has, it is hoped, been supplied by the notes aforesaid. Readers of this volume will be interested to know that they here have the thoughts and feelings of a Jamaican peasant of pure black blood. The young poet, aged twenty-two, spent his early years in the depths of the country, and though he has now moved to the more populous neighbourhood of Kingston, his heart remains in his Clarendon hills. He began life as a wheelwright, but the trade was not to his mind, and he left it and enlisted in the Constabulary. WALTER JEKYLL.

PAGE 10

. ... ;: ..

PAGE 11

CONTENTS QUASHI E TO BUCCRA ME DANNABEES LUB 0' MINE TAKEN ABACK LITTLE JIM JIM AT SIXTEEN WHE' FE DO ? .>KING BANANA PLEADING THE BITER BIT OUT OF DEBT THE H .ERMIT /FETCH IN' WATER SCHOOL-TEACHER NELL'S LUB-LETTER NELLIE WHITE RETRIBUTION TO E M E. HARD TIMES FRESH FROM DE U :CTURE. DE DAYS DAT ARE GONE. REVEILLE SOUN'IN' /OLD ENGLAND I I PAGK 1 3 15 18 20 22 24 2 7 30 32 3 6 3 8 41 42 45 47 49 51 53 55 59 61 63

PAGE 12

12 OAT DIRTY RUM HEART-STIRRINGS D E DOG RO S E CONTENTS A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE nOBBY ;( MOTHER DEAR KITE-FLYING lONE KILLIN' N A NNY /MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME TWO-AN'SIX COMPENSATIO N HEARTLESS RHODA ;fA DREAM y RISE AND FALL. BENEATH THE YAMPY S HADE TO INSPECTOR W. E CLARK TO CLARENDON HILLS AND H. A. H. WHEN YOU WANT A BELLYFUL )t STROKES OF THE TAMARIND SWITCH >-. MY PRETTY DAN RIBBER COME-DO N A COUNTRY GIRL MY SOLDIER-LAD MY MOUNTAIN HOME TO BENNIE HOPPING OFF THE TRAM TO A COMRADE ]UBBA OF TUNES PAC. 66 69 72 74 77 79 81 83 84 86 92 93 95 100 102 104 106 108 III 114 116 119 122 124 127 128 129 130 133

PAGE 13

QUASHIE TO BUCCRA 1 You tas'e2 petaterS an' you say it sweet, But you no 4 know how hard we wuk 6 fe it i You want a basketful fe quattiewut,6 'Cause you no know how 'tiff de bush fe cut. j De cowitch 8 under which we hab fe 'toop, De shamaro lyin' t'ick like pumpkin soup, Is killin' somet'ing 1 0 for a naygur man i Much less 11 de cutlass workin' in we han'. De sun hot like when fire ketch a 12 town i Shade-tree look temptin', yet we lie down, Aldough we wouldn' eben ef we could, Causen we job must finish soon an' good.1s I The buccra (white man), l ooking over the hedge at the black miln 's field, is ad dre ssed by the latter as follows. 2 Taste. 3 Sweet potato (lpomO!a Balalas). 4 Don't. s Work 6 Quattieworth: quattie, a quarter of sixpence. 7 Becanse you don't know how stiff the bnsh is to cu t i .e ., what hard work it is to fell the trees and clear t he land 8 Muctl1UJ prune ItS g Shamebnsh, the prickly sensitive pl ant (Mimosa 10 Terrible stuff. 11 More II In 13 Because our job must be quickly and thoroughly done 13

PAGE 14

SONGS OF JAMAICA De bush cut done, de bank dem we deh dig,l But d e m caan 'tan' sake 0' we naybor pig; For so we moul' it up he root it do n, 2 An' we caan' 'peak s ake 0' we naybor tongue.s Aldough de vine is little, it can bear; It wantin"not'in' but a little care: Y ou see petater tear up groun', you run,4 You lau g hin', sir, you must be t'ink a fun .5 De fie !' pretty? It couldn't l ess 'an dat,6 VIe wuk de b es',7 an' den d e lan is fat; We dig de row dem eben in a line, A n keep it clean-den so it mus' look fine. You tas'e petater an' you say it sweet, But yo u no know how hard we wuk f e it ; Yet still de hardship always melt away W hen ebe r it co m e roun' to reapin' day I The clearing of the land done, we dig the ba nks-kind of terrace s on the steep hill side-but owing to our neighbour's pig they cannot s t a nd. Bank dem "= banks This intrusive" dem ., must be tacked close l y to the p r eceding word. It occurs again below-" r ow dem." 2 For no soo n er do we m ould it up, than he ( the pig) roots it (th e bank) dow n Down" i s pronounced very short, a n d is a good rhyme to tongue." I And we cannot comp lain, for this would "bring confu s ion," i. t. cause a row A piece of humorous exaggeration: "When you see the pot ato e s tearing up the gronnd in their rapid growth you will run to save your self from being caught an d entangled in the vines." 5 You are laughing, sir-perhaps you think I am exaggerating. 6 L ess than that=be otherwi se. 7 We work as well as we possibly can.

PAGE 15

ME BANNABEES l RUN ober mango trees, 'Pread chock2 to kitchen doo', Watch de blue bannabees, Look how it ben' down low! De blossom draw de bees Same how de soup draw man; S Some call it broke-pot peas, It caan' bruk we bu'n-pan. 4 Wha' sweet so when it t'ick? 6 Though some call it goat-tud,O Me all me finger lick, An' yet no chew me cud.7 I A corrupt i on of Bonav i s t, a climbing bean or pea t Right up. 3 The blossom attra ct s bees, just as the so up made from th e pea s att ract s man. 4 It can't break o ur burnpan-a tall saucepan. W hat i s so goo d as thi s sou p, when it i s thick? Goat drop p ing s-the n ame of a p oison ous p la n t so mewh a t rc semh ling bannabees. 7 Beca use I haven't yet got my bell y fuJI: see below, IS

PAGE 16

16 SONGS OF JAMAICA A mumma plant 1 de root One day J es' out 0' fun; 2 But now look 'pon de fruit, See wha' de mek fun" 3 done. I jam de tick dem 'traight Soon as it 'tart fe pread,4 An begin count de date Fe when de pod fe shed.6 Me watch de vine dem grow, S'er 6 t'row dung a de root: Crop time look fe me slow, De bud tek long fe shoot. But so de day did come, I 'crub de bu'n-pan bright, An' tu'n down 'pon it 7 from De marnin' till de night. An' Lard I me belly swell, No 'cause de peas no good, But me be'n tek 8 a 'pel1 Mo' dan a giant would Yet eben after dat Me nyam 9 it wid a will, 'Causen it mek me fat; So I wi' lub it still. I It was mamma who planted. 2 With no serious purpose. S T o make fun = to triAe. As soon as it began to spread. 5 When the pod will be formed. 7 The soup. 8 Did take. e Sister. 9 I ate.

PAGE 17

ME BANNABEES Caan' talk 1 about gungu,2 Fe me it is no peas j Cockstone 8 might do fe you, Me want me bannabees. 1 I t's not the least use y o ur ta lk i n g I R e d peas-th e bea n s of Am e ric a 17 2 C on go p e as. B

PAGE 18

LUB 0' MINE DARLIN',though you lub me still, I feel it so, To t'ink dat we neber will Meet soon, you know ; Eben when you tell me say 1 Dat your d ear heart 2 Did grow 'tronger ebery day An' hate fe part. Feelin' all you' lub for me, I t'ink 3 you press Your heart, as it use' to be, Upon me breas'. Lubin' you wid all me soul, De lub is such Dat it beat out blood,6-de whole,G An' dat is much. I Although YOIl do tell me. The word' say' is redundant. II Love. I Im agine. 4 As formerly. Beats out relati ons-i. e., makes relati ons nothing. Fathe r and mother and all. 18

PAGE 19

LUB 0' MINE Lubin' you as you go 'long I n a you walk; 1 Also when you chune 2 a song, An' as you talk. An'. a so I hate fe see 8 You go astray In those t'ings dat you and me Can cast away. 4 Lub, I dyin' 5 fe you' smile, An' some sweet news Dat can cheer me heart awhile Fe wha' it lo se. Lub m e, darlin'-lub, aldough You are now gone: You can never l eave m e soFriendless-alone. 1 In your walk 2 Tun e = sin" 8 And I so hate to see Need not do. 6 I am dying. 19

PAGE 20

TAKEN ABACK L E T me go, Joe, for I want go 1 home: Can't stan' wid you, 2 For pa might go 8 come; An' if him only hab him rum,4 I don't know whateber I'll do. I must go now, for it's gettin' night I am afraid, An' tis not moonlight: Give me de last hug, an' do it tight; Me pa gwin' go knock off me head.5 No, Joe, don't come !-you will keep me late, An' pa might be In him 0 sober state; Him might get vex' 7 an' lock up de gate, Den what will becomin' of me? 1 T o go 2 I can t st a y with y ou. I A r e dun d a n t word un a cc e nted If h e ch a nces t o be i n liq uor. 6 My papa is go i ng to go (a n d) k nock off m y h ea d. The 0 in .. is pronounc ed very sh or t m aking i t s o u nd l ike a w HI s 7 V ex ed 20

PAGE 21

TAKEN ABACK Go wid you, Joe ?-you don't I u b me den! I shame'l 0' you-Gals caan' 2 trust you men! An' I b'en tekin' you fe me frien ; S Good-night, Joe, you've proven untrue. 1 Am a s hamed. C a n 't. And I've been taking you f o r m y friend. 21

PAGE 22

LITTLE JIM ME Lard I me caan' bear it no mo' I 'Twill kill me dead, dis bad sore toe j All day, all night, 'tis all de same, Mek me a bawl out Massa name.1 o Lard 0' me, a 'fraid 2 to tu'n, De way de dreadful bluestone bu'n IS A 4 feel it movin' t'rough me j'ints, Like million load 0' needle-p'ints An' oh I me schoolmates dem 6 did laugh, De day I nearly knock' 6 it off j Me laugh fI!eself fe sake 0' shame,7 An' didn' know I'd go so lame. I didna' then t'ink what I'd got 8_ Good Lard, mumma, de bluestone hot 19 I tell you, a wi' lose me head; 10 You satisfy to kill me dead? 11 1 Making m e bawl (pro nounce baM) out Massa's ( God's) name. 2 I am afraid. S So dreadfully does tbe bluestone (sulphate of copper) bum. t 1. I Redundant word It is tacked closely to the preceding word. e Knocked. 7 I laughed myself, out o f bravado. 8 I did n ot then picture to myself the ext ent of the inju ry. g Is painful. 10 I shall g o out of my mind, I tell you. 11 Can it be that you don't care whethe r you k ill me or not? 22

PAGE 23

LITTLE JIM An' oh! it is a double pain, For I caan' go to school again, To gellop ober fyahn 1 an' ditch, An' 'crew de j'int 0' teacher switch.2 No mo' roas' corn 8 fe little Jim, Dem say dat it no good 4 fe him: Me hide me face, for me caan' bear To see dem passin' wid de pear.6 But me a don't a gwin' 6 to fret, De half a toe wi' better get: 7 I'll go to school once more, go bad; 8 Ay, it ease me a bit, 9 t'ank God! I To ga llop over fern. 23 To screw the joint of teacher's switch, is to cut it so that it breaks when he uses it 3 Baked cob of green maize. 4 They say it is not good. 6 Alligato r pear (Persea gralissi1lla), nol allowed to those suffering from wounds. 8 But I am not going 7 The half toe will get well some day. S Play the mischief; play tric ks The a sounds as in French la. 9 It is a bit easier.

PAGE 24

JIM AT SIXTEEN Corpy,l it pinch me so, De bloomin ole handcuff; A dun no warra mek 2 You put it on so rough. Many a policeman Hab come to dis before; Dem slip same like a S me, An' pass t 'rough lock-up door. Mumma, no bodder5 cry, I t should an 6 hotter be ; I wouldn' he e d you when You use 7 fe talk to me. I run 8 away from you Same as I tu'n out school, g 'Caus'n a didn' want To stan' unde r no rule.1o 1 Corpo ral. 2 I don t know what made. I This intrusive" a" is common. Like" has the pronunciati on of French lac. The door of the loc k.up. 5 Do not bother (trouble) to cry-j.e., do not cry. S Intrusive again. 7 Used. 8 Ran. g As soon as I left school. 10 To be under discipline. 24

PAGE 25

.. JIM AT SIXTEEN An' though you send 1 fe me, A wouldn' face de home; Yet still dem 2 find you quick Same as de trouble come.s Mumma, I know quite well You' lub fe me is 'trong ; Yet still you don't a go Join wid me in a wrong} An' so I won't beg you To pay 5 fe me to-day; I'll bear me punishment,6 'Twill teach me to obey .. .. .. .. .. Mumma, you' Jim get 'way .. An' come back home 7 to you, An' ask 8 you to forgive Him all 0' whe' him do.o I want you to feget Dat I disgrace de name, An' cause de ole fam'ly 10 To look 'pon me wid shame. You come an' beg de judge Before dem call fe me,lr An' walk by de back gate, T'inkin' I wouldn' see .. 1 Sent. 2 The police. S When the trouble came. You a re not going to back me up in wrongdoing. 6 The fine. 6 And go to prison. 7 Has got off and comes home. 8 Asks. g All he has don e. Whe' = wha t 10 Pronouncefahmif. 11 You came and begged the ma gistrate be f ore m y case was brought on.

PAGE 26

SONGS OF JAMAICA But 'fore him let me go, Him lectur' me, mumma, Tellin' me how I mus' Try no fe bruk de law.l Mumma, I feel it, but No eye-water caan' drop: Yet I wish dat it could, For me breat' partly 'top.2 So, mumma, I come back Again to be your boy, An' ever as before To fill you' heart wid joy. NOTE BY THE AUTHOR.-On Friday I went to Court on duty for the third time since my enlistment. I happened to escort a prisoner, a sta lwart young fellow, and as I was putting on the handcuff, which was rath er small, it pinched him badly, making a raw wound. And yet he was so patient, saying he knew that I could not help it. Although it was accidentally done, I felt so sad and ashame d. The above poem grew o ut of this incident. I T e lling me I must take care not to break the law. Pro nounce Ian. 2 He means, that the lump in his thr oat is more p ainfu l than tea rs.

PAGE 27

WHE' FE DO?1 LIFE will continue so for aye, Some people sad, some people gay, Some mackin' 2 life while udders pray; But we mus' fashion -out we way An' sabe a mite fe rainy day-All we can do. We needn' fold we han' an' cry, N or vex we heart wid groan and sigh; De best we can do is fe try To fight de despair drawin nigh: Den we might conquer by an' byDat we might do. We hab to batter 8 in de sun, An' dat isn't a little fun, For Lard I 'tis hellish how it bu'n : Still dere's de big w ul' to live do'n So whe' fe do ? 1 What to do? equivllient to "What can't be cured, must be endured." The e of whe' is the French e. 2 M aking mock at. a Labour and sweat; .wink. 27

PAGE 28

SONGS OF J AMAleA We nigger hab a tas'l fe do, To conquer prejudice dat 2 due To obeah, s an' t'ings not a few Dat keep we progress back fe true But whe' fe do? We've got to wuk wid might an' main, To use we han' an use we brain, To toil an' worry, 'cherne an' 'train 6 Fe t'ings that brin?" more loss dan gain; To stan' de sun an bear de rain, An' suck we bellyful 0' pain Widouten cry 6 nor yet complain-For dat caan' 7 do And though de wul' is full 0' wrong, Dat caa n prevent we sing we song A ll de day a s we wuk along-Whe' e l se fe do? -We happy in de hospital; 8 We happy when de rain deh fall ;!J We happy though de baby baw l Fe food dat we no hab at all ; 10 We happy when Deat' angel call 11 Fe full 1 2 we cup of joy wid gall : Our fait' this life is not smallDe b est to do. 1 Task. 2 That's. 3 Sorcery and magic 4 Very much. Scheme a nd strain 6 Without crying. 7 Can't=won' t S All the lines of this stanza end with the sound aM. g I s falling 1 0 Don't have at all=have n t g ot. II Death 's a ng el calls. 12 Fill.

PAGE 29

WHE' FE DO? An' da's 1 de way we ought to live, For pain an' such 2 we shouldn' grieve, But tek de best dat Nature give-Da's whe' fe do. God mek de wul' fe black an' white; We'll wuk on in de glad sunlight, Keep toilin' on wid all our might, An' sleep in peace when it is night: We must strive on to gain de height, Aldough it may not be in sight; An' yet perhaps de blessed right Will never conquer in de fight Still, whe' f e do? We'll try an' live as any man, a A n' fight de w ul' de best we ca n, E en though it hard fe understan Whe' we mus' do. For da's de way 0' dis ya wul' ; 4 It's snap an' bite, an' haul an' pull An' we all get we bellyful -But whe' fe do? That's. 2 The like. As others do, who make a good fight. Of this (here) world.

PAGE 30

KING BANANA GREEN mancha 1 mek 2 fe naygur man; Wha' sweet so when it roas'? Some boil it in a big black pan, It sweeter in a toas'. 3 A buccra fancy 4 when it r ipe Dem use it ebery day; It scarcely give dem belly-gripe, Dem eat it diffran' way. 6 Out yonder see somoke fl a rise, An' see de fire wicket; 7 Deh go'p to heaben wid de nize 8 Of hundred t'ousan' cric ket. De black moul' lie do'n quite prepare' Fe feel de hoe an' rake; De fire bu'n, and it tek care Fe mek de wo'm II dem wake I Corruption of c, M a rtinique, the best variety of banana in Jamaica. 2 I s (or w as ) made. I In a to as t = toasted. A toasted or roasted banana is a baked banant. It is buccra's f a ncy, i.e., the whit e man likes it. I In a different way: not so much at a time as we eat. I This l e ngthening of a monosyllable int o a dissyllable is common T Wicked. 8 It goes up t o heaven w i th the noise, etc This is an excellent simile, as those acquainted with tropical crickets will lrnow. D Worms, i.e ., grubs. 30

PAGE 31

/ KING BANANA Wha' lef fe buccra teach again Dis time about plantation? Dere's not' in dat can beat de plain Good ole time cultibation. Banana dem fat all de same 1 From bunches big an' 'trong i Pure nine-han' bunch a car' de fame,2Ole met'od all along. De c uttin done same ole-time way, We wrap dem in a trash,S An' pack dem neatly in a dray So tight dat dem can' t mash. We re'ch : 4 banana finish sell i 5 Den we 'tart back fe home: Some hab money in t'read-bag 6 well, Some spen' all in a rum. Green mancha me k fe naygur man, It mek fe him all way i 7 Our islan is banana lan Banana car' de sway. s 31 1 In s pite of primitive method s of cultivation the bananas are just as plump. 2 The nine han d and o nly (pu re ) nine-hand bunches-non e smaller, that is-gr own by" this old method have a fine reputation S In trash Any refuse is called "trash." Here dried banana leaves are meant 4 Reach our journey's end. 6 The selling o f t he bana n as is over e Bag secured b y a thread (string) round the mouth. 7 In every way He can eat it o r sell i t ij Carries the sway, i.e., is Jamaica's mainstay.

PAGE 32

PLEADING IF you lub me, Joanie, only tell me, dear, Do not be so cold When my lub is bold; Do not mek dis burnin' heart 0' mine get drear, Tek it for your own, For 'tis yours alone. I hab eber lub' d you from I saw 1 your face On dat Monday morn 'Mongst de peas an' corn : Lightly did you trip along wid yout'ful g race, Wid de kerchief red Wound about your head. Durin' de r e vival 2 we b 'e n use' fe pray, Spirit we b'en hab, How we use' fe sob! Yet how soon did all of it from we get 'way! 3 Lub kiver de whole, We feget we "soul." 1 F rom the moment that I saw. 2 At revival meetin g s those who I I have th e Spirit give grunting sobs J Go away pass aw ay. 32

PAGE 33

PLEADING 3 3 Though I could'n s ee you when you younger b'en, I t w as better so, For we older grow, An' I can protect you now from udder men, If you'll only be Fe me one,l J oanie. How J saw you proudly draw up to your hei ghtAs w e strolled along Gay in laugh an' song, Passin' by de peenies 2 sheddin' greenish light Cos my lips did miss, s Stealin' one lee 4 kiss! 'Member you de day s down by de river-side, I pre ve nted you Your washin' to do T eas in you at times till y ou got v ex' an cried An' I try de w hile To coax you fe smil e ? J o anie, when you were me own a5 t rue sweetheart, I lived in de air 'Douten 6 t'ought of ca r e Thinkin' 0 me Joan, dat' nuttin' could we 7 part, Naught to mek me fear Fe me own a d e ar. W h e n in church on Sunday days w e use fe s it, You dress e d in light pink, How w e used fe w in k Wha' d e parson say we cared for not a bit, N uttin could remove Our s w eet t'oughts from love. 1 Mine alone. 2 Fire .Hies. 3 Ma k e a mistake. 4 Litt le. 5 There is a delicious ca r essing s o und a bout t his intrusive" a." 6 Withoute n without 7 Us. c

PAGE 34

34 SONGS OF JAMAICA I am thinkin', Joanie, when de nights were lone, An' you were afraid Of each darkened shade, An' I use' fe guide you over river-stone, 1 How you trusted me Fe care 2 you, Joanie. 'Member you de time when many days passed by, An' I didn' come To your hill-side home, How you wrote those sad, sad letters to know why, Till I comfort gave To my Joanie brave? In those happy days, me Joan, you loved me then, An' I t'ought dat you Would be ever true; Never dreamed you would forsake me for strange men, Who caan' lub you so Much as thrown-up Joe. Joanie, fickle Joanie, give up Squire's son; You wi' soon hate him An' his silly whim, An' your heart wi' yearn fe me when I am gone; So, 'fo' 'tis too late, Come back to your mate. 1 The stepping stones in lhe river. 11 Look after.

PAGE 35

PLEADING Joanie, when you're tired of dat worthless man, You can come back still Of y(;>ur own free will : 35 Nummo 1 girl dis true, true heart will understan' ; I wi' live SO-SO,2 Broken-hearted Joe. An', Joan, in d e days fe come I know you'll grieve For de foolishniss Dat you now call bliss: Dere s no wrong you done m e I would not forgive i But you choice 8 your w ay, So, me Joan, good-day I 1 No other gir l can understand. Choose, have chosen. Alone.

PAGE 36

THE BITER BIT [" Ole woman a swea' fe eat calalu : 1 calalu a swea' fe wuk him 2 gut."JAMAICA PROVERB.] CORN an' peas growin' t'ick an' fa5' Wid nice blade peepin t'rough de grass; An' ratta a from dem hole a peep, T'ink all de corn dem gwin' go reap. Ole woman sit by kitchen doo' Is watchin' calalu a grow, An' all de time a t'inking dat She gwin' go nyam dem when dem fat.4 But calalu, grow'n' by de hut, Is swearin' too fe wuk him gut; While she, like some, t'ink 5 all is right When dey are in some corner tight. Peas time come roun' 8-de corn is lef ; An' ratta now deh train himse'f Upon de cornstalk dem a' night Fe when it fit to get him bite i I Spin ach. 2 His=her. 3 The rals. Juicy. 5 Thinks; b ut it also means" thi nk, and so e qually applies to the plural subject 8 The time for harvesting the peas arrives 7 And (every) rat now pr actis es the cornstalks at night, so that he may get his bite when the corn is npe. 3 6

PAGE 37

THE BITER BIT De corn-piece lie do'n all in blue, l An' all de beard dem fioatin' too Amongst de yellow grain so gay,2 Dat you would watch dem a whole day. An' ratta look at ebery one, Swea'in' dat dem not gwin' lef none; 8 But Quaco know a t'ing or two, An' swear say 4 dat dem won't go so. So him go get a little meal An' somet'ing good fe those dat steal, An' mix dem up an' 'pread dem out For people possess fas' fas mout' 6 Now ratta, comin' from dem nes', See it an' say" Dis food is bes' ; Dem nyam an' stop, an' nyam again, An' soon lie do'n, rollin' in pain. 1 This ref e r s to the bluish leaf of the maize. 2 Supply" all this makes so pretty a pictur e 3 They are not going to leave any. "Say" is redundant: it is tacked closely t o swear. For those who are too quick with their mouths. 37

PAGE 38

OUT OF DEBT DE Christmas is finish' ; It was rather skinnish,l Yet still we are happy, an' so needn' fret, For dinner is cookin An' baby is lookin An' laughin' ; s he knows dat her pa owe no debt. D e pas' hab de debtor, 2 An' w e cannot get h e r s T o co m e bac k an' grin a t u s as in time gone: D e re 's no win e f e bre akfas',' An' no on e fe m e k fuss, We all i s cont ente d f e suc k on e dry bon e No two bit 0 brater6 Wid shopkeeper Marter, I feel me head light s i ttin down by me w if e ; No w eight lef b ehin' me N o gungu 6 a lin e fe D e man w ho was u s ual 7 to worry me lif e I The fare was rather meagre. We were in debt last Christmas, but now we free. I The past. The midday meal. o Shopkeeper Marter and I are no longer two brot hers: m eani n g, I am no t always going into his s h o p, and so keeping i n debt. Pr on o un c e bra Mer. 6 F r ie n ds p la n t t h eir gungu (Congo p eas ) t o get h er, a nd, in pi cking t he crop, are not particular about the line between thei r pr o p er t ies. When they cease to be friends, they have ,'" gtmg-o a line. T he phrase is eq u ivalent to to have no truck with." 7 Pronounce with o ut sounding the second u. Was usual = u sed. 3 8

PAGE 39

OUT OF DEBT We're now out 0' season,l But dat is no reason 39 Why we shan't be happy wid heart free and light: We feel we are better Dan many dat fetter Wid burden dey shoulder to mek Christmas bright. Some 'crape out de cupboard, Not 'memberin' no wud 2 Dat say about fegettin' when rainy day: It. comes widout warning 'Fo' daylight a 8 marnin', An wakin', de blue cloud ta'n black dat was gay. De days dat gwin' follow No more will be hollow, Like some dat come after de Christmas before: We'll lay by some money An' lick at de honey,' An' neber will need to lock up our front door.s J es' 6 look at de brightness Of dat poor an' sightless Old man on de barrel a playin' de flute: Wha' mek h i m so joyful? His lap is of toy full, A pick 'ninny play w id de patch on his suit. ) Past Chri stm as. 2 Entirely oblivi ous of the pr overb (word) which tell s us not to forget to make provision for the rainy day a In the Enjoy the pleasu re it b r ings. Against the b ailiff. 6 J ust.

PAGE 40

SONGS OF JAMAICA Ours too de same blessin', An' we've learn' a lesson We should have been learnin' from years long ago: A Christmas 'dout pleasure 1 Gave dat darlin treasure, 2 An' duty to Milly is all dat we owe. 1 Without plea sure i.e., a sober and quiet Chri s tmas. 2 Our little pickny.

PAGE 41

THE HERMIT FAR in de country let me hide myself From life's sad pleasures an' de greed of pelf, Dwellin' wid Nature primitive an' rude, Livin' a peaceful life of so litude Dere by de woodland let me build my home Where tropic ros es 1 ever are in bloom, An' t'rough de w ild ca n e 2 growin' thick and tall Rushes in gleeful mood de waterfall. Roof strong enough to keep out season rain, S Under whose eaves lo v ed swallows will be fain T o build deir n ests, an' deir young birdlings rear Widouten have de least lee t'ought of f e ar.4 An' in my study I shall view de wul ', An' learn of all its doin's to de full j List to de w oodland creatures' musi c sweetSad, yet contented in m y lon e retreat. 1 In Jamaica any showy o r sweet flower is called a ro se. 2 Armsdo D oltax 3 The heavy rains of May and October are called" season rains. 4 Without having the smallest (least little) thought of fear.

PAGE 42

FETCHIN' WATER WATCH how dem touris' like fe look Out 'pon me little daughter, Wheneber fe her tu'n 1 to cook Or fetch a panof water: De sight look gay; Dat is one way, But I can tell you say,2 'Nuff rock'tone in de sea, yet none But those 'pon lan' know 'bouten sun.3 De pickny comin' up de hill, Fightin' wid heavy gou'd,4 Won't say it sweet 6 him, but he will Complain about de load: Him feel de weight, Dem 6 watch him gait; It's so some of de High people fabour t'ink it sweet Fe batter 8 in de boilin' heat. 1 It is her tum. 2 The" say" is redundant. 3 In all u sion to the Jamaica proverb, Rock'tone (stone) a river bottom no feel sun hot." 4 Struggling under his head load-a gourd (calabash) filled with water. S Is agreeable to. 6 The tourists watch his upright carriage. 7 Favour think=seem to think 8 Labour and sweat; toil and moil. 42

PAGE 43

FETCHIN' WATER Dat boy wid de kanisene 1 pan, Sulky down to him toe, His back was rollin' in a san', 2 For him pa mek him crow: 3 Him feel it bad, Near mek him mad, But teach him 4 he's a lad j Go disobey him fader wud,6 When he knows dat his back would sud! 6 But Sarah Jane she wus 'an all, For she t'row 'way 7 de pan, An' jam her back agains' de wall Fe fight her mumma Fan: Feelin' de pinch, She mek a wrinch An' get 'way j but de wench Try fe put shame upon her rna, Say dat she cook de bittle raw. s Dis water-fetchin' sweet dem though When day mek up dem min', An' nuff 0' dem 'tart out fe go, An' de weader is fine: De pan might leak, Dem don't a 'peak, N or eben try fe seek Some clay or so 9 to mek it soun' j Dem don't care ef dem wet all roun'. 43 1 The favourite recep tacle for water is a four.gallon kerosene lin (pan). 2 In the sand. 3 Cry out. 4 But it will teach him 5 What ?-disobey his father's orders? 6 Get a lathering. 7 Threw down. S Said that she cooked the victual raw, i.e., only half cooked it g Or something.

PAGE 44

44 SONGS OF J AMAleA Den all 'bout de road dem 'catter Marchin' along quite at ease; Dat time listen to deir chatter, Talkin' anyt'ing dem please: Dem don t a fear, N eider a care, For who can interfere ? T'ree mile-five, six tu'n,l-an' neber 2 W'ary but could do it 3 for eber. 1 Turn s i.e I journeys t o t he s pr i n g and ba ck 3 For rhythm r ea d thu s : T r e e mil e-live, s i x t u'n an '-neber. l Pr o nounce d l v e el.

PAGE 45

SCHOOL-TEACHER NELL'S LUB-LETTER IF you promise to lub me alway, I will foreber be true, An' you don't mek me sorry I de day Dat I give myself to you. How I 'member de night when we m eet 2 An' chat fe de first time of lub I go home, an' den neber could eat None 0' de plateful 0' grub. An' de day it was empty to me, Wakin', but dreamin' of you, While de school it was dull as could be, An' me hate me wuk fe do. s Oh, I knew of your lub long befor e My school friends tell! me o f it, And I watch at you from de school door, When you pass to de cockpit.5 J Make me regr et 2 How well I remember the night we met. I hate d the d oing of m y w ork. 4 T old. A natural depr ession in the gr ound, in the vicinity of the auth or 's home, b e ars t hi s name. 45

PAGE 46

SONGS OF JAMAICA Den I hear too dat you use' fe talk Say,l if IOU caan' ketch me dark night, You waul sure ketch me as me deh walk 2 In a de 8 open moonlight. An' you' wud come to pass 4 very soon, For scarcely a mont' did gone When de light of de star an' de moon Shine 6 bright as we kiss all alone. I can neber remember de times Ma scolded her little Nell; 6 A11 day her tongue wuks like de chimes Dat come from de old school-bell. I have given up school-life fe you: Sweetheart, my all 7 is your own ; D e n say you will ever be true, An' live fe you' Nellie alone. I Used to ( talk and) say. You would be sure to catch me as I walked. In the. 4 And you r word came to pass. 6 Shone d I cannot count the number of s colding s I hav e had from mamma. 7 Whole self.

PAGE 47

NELLIE WHITE (AN ANSWER TO THE FOREGOING) SWEETHEART, I have loved you well, More than dis lee tongue can tell, An' you need not hab no fear, For I'll marry you, my dear. What are you talkin' about? Don't say that I'll play you out; 1 Swif' ole Time, me Nell, will prove Dat 'tis you alone I love. Cry not, except 'tis for joy; Can't you trus' dis big-heart boy? N ell, I hate fe see you weep j Tek my heart, an' go to sleep. How could I deceive you, Nell? Don't I love you much too well? Could I fool dat plump black cheek? Don't cry, darlin'-look up-speak I 1 False. 47

PAGE 48

SONGS OF J AMAleA Nellie of the pretty feet An' the palm-like shape so neat, I have eyes to see but you; Darling, trust me to be true I Nell, me dear, you need not fret, For you are my food, my breat' ; Trust me, trust me, Nellie White, Kiss me, lee sweetheart-good-night I

PAGE 49

RETRIBUTION DE mule dem in de pasture an' de donkey pon red groun',! An' we boys mus ketch dem all befo' de evenin sun go do'n; De tas' 2 it isn't easy for de whole 0' dem can run, An' grass-lice 8 lie do'n set.' Grass-lice dat mek you trimble long time 6 more dan when you me et A man dat mean to fight you who you know you cannot beat; Dem mek you feel you' blood crawl from you' head do'n to you' feet, An' w ish dat you b 'e n 6 wet An', like a 'pite ,! see all de mule a 'ketter t'rough de grass, So ch upidly a followin de foolish ole jackass ; But when you hea' we ketch dem, we wi' se r v e dem such a sauce By ridin' dem to deat' I Poor patchy land with spaces of r ed earth. 2 T as k. 3 Small ticks. 4 Waiting f o r us. 6 Long time=much. 6 Had been, were. 7 As though to s pite us. 49

PAGE 50

50 SONGS OF JAMAICA We breat' is partly givin' out 1 as up de hill we go up; De beast dem seem to understan' say" Day longer 'an rope," 2 An' dat de night wi' come befo' we ketch dem is deir hope; But we shall conquer yet. For though dem t'ink dem hab some sense, dem all run right between De rocky road above de swamp, where it hab eber been Our luck to nab dem in de trap dat neber can be seen By dem-Dey're in de net I We hab dem pullin' on de bit as we race mile 'pon mile, An' gras s-lice in we back a crawl an' 'ting us all de while; But blood is drippin' from dem mout', twill teach dem not fe 8 vile, We'll rac e dem out 0' breat'. 1 T h ree p ar t s go n e g R oo p in two s yllables. The pr ove r b m eans, I ll be eve n w i t h you. 3 T o be

PAGE 51

TO E. M. E. You see 1 me smile: but what is it? A sweetened pain-a laughin' fitA little honeyed dart, That, passing, stabs my heart, Yet mek me glad a bit. You see me dance: 'twas but my feet, You should have heard my heart a beat I For none 0' it was real: It be'n a priceless 2 sale Of bitter for a sweet. Dis laughin' face I-'tis full 0' joy Because it is a baby's toy; 3 But when de child is gone An' the darkness comes on, 'Twill be anudder boy. You hear me sing: what is de tune? De song of one that's dyin' soon, A whirlin', tossin' life Flung on de wul' of strife; I call it debil's boon." I Saw. B Profitless. 3 The s peaker bas a baby on his knee. I shall look very different. 51

PAGE 52

SONGS OF JAMAICA D e many pleasures? Wha' s de gain? I'll tell you of a grindin' pain Dat companie s de birt', An' runs 1 wid vengeance 2 mirt De life, till it is slain. Why do I sleep? My eyes know why, Same how a life knows why it die: 3 Dey sleep on in distress, Knowin' not why dey res', But feelin' why dey cry. I'm hungry now, so eat once mo', E'en though I'll soon be lik e befo' ; For, as in udder t'ings, De seemin pleasure clings, D e c ravin' has no cure. I t always seem so strange to m e Dat you can satisfy 4 to be A life whose daily food Is pain: de only good, D eat' dat will set it free. I C hase s hunts 2 Ve n g e ful. 3 My e yes n o more kno w w hy, t h a n a life kn o w s why it die s 4 Be c o ntent.

PAGE 53

HARD TIMES DE mo' me wuk, de mo' time hard, I don't know what fe do j I ben' me knee an' pray to Gahd, Yet t'ings same as befo'. De taxes knockin' at me door, I hear de bailiff's v ice ; Me wife is sick, can't get no cure, But gnawin' me like mice. De picknies hab to go to school Widout a bite fe taste; And I am working like a mule, While buccra, sittin' in de cool, Hab 'nuff nenyam fe waste.2 De clodes is' tearin' off dem back When money seems noa mek ; A man can't eben ketch a mac,s Care how him 'train him neck. I Trying to get money from me. 2 Food and to spare. S Shilling ; short for macaroni However hard he may strain his neck. "Care how "-1 don t care bow,-no matter how. 53

PAGE 54

54 SONGS OF J AMAleA De peas won't pOp,1 de corn can't grow, Poor people 2 look sad; Dat Gahd would cuss de lan' I d know, For black naygur too bad. I won't gib up, I won't say die, For alI 8 de time is hard; Aldough de wul' soon en', I'll try My wutless 4 best as ti me goes by, An' trust on in me Gahd. I Spring. Pe op l e's faces. 3 Although. Worthless: meanin g, I'll try my very be s t poor as that may be

PAGE 55

CUDJOE FRESH FROM DE LECTURE 'Top one minute, Cous' Jarge, an' sit do'n 'pon de grass, An' mek a 1 tell you 'bout de news I hear at las', How de buccra te-day tek time an' begin teach All of us dat was deh 2 in a clear open speech.. You miss somet'ing fe true, but a wi' mek you know, As much as how a can, how de business a go: Him tell us 'bout we self, an' mek we fresh 8 again, An' talk about de wul' from commencement to en'. Me look 'pon me black 'kin, an' so me head grow big, Aldough me heaby han' dem hab fe plug4 an' dig; For ebery single man, no car' 6 about dem rank, Him bring us ebery one an' put 'pon de same plank. 1 Make I = let me. 2 T here. 3 Over: meaning, "He gave us a new v iew of our origin, Ilnd explaine d tbat we did not come from Adam and Eve, but by evolution. Plougb, i.e., pick up the ground with a pickaxe. 6 Care: no matter what their rank. ss

PAGE 56

SONGS OF J AMAleA Say, parson do de same? 1 Yes, in a di ft'ren' way, For parson tell us how de w h o l e 0' we are clay; An' lookinl close at t'ings, we hab to pray quite hard Fe swaller wha' him sayan' don t t'ink bad 0 Gahd. But dis man tell us 'traight 'bout how de whole t'ing c ame, An' show us widout doubt how Gahd was not fe blame; How change cause eberyt'ing fe mix up 'pon de eart' An' dat most hardship come t'rough accident 0' birt'. Him s how us all a sort 2 0 funny 'keleton, Wid names I won't remember under dis ya sun j Animals queer to deat', s dem bone, teet', an' head-skull, All dem so dat did live in a de ole-time wul'. No 'cos say w e get c uss mek fe we 'kin come so, But fe all t'ings co m e 'quare, same so it was to go: 4 Seems our lan' 5 must ha' been a bery low-do'n place, Mek it tek such long time in tu'ning out a race. 1 Do you say that parson doe s the same? I All sorts. 8 The queerest animals. I t is not because we were cursed (Gen ix. 25) that our skin is dark; but so that things might come square, there had to be black and white. 0 Africa.

PAGE 57

CUDJOE FRESH FROM DE LECTURE 57 Yes, from monkey we spring: I believe ebery WUdi It long time better dan f'go say we come from mud: No need me keep back part, me hab not'in' fe gain i It's ebery man dat. born de buccra mek it plain. It realIy strange how some 0' de lan' dem advance i Man power in some ways is nummo soso chance; 1 But suppose eberyt'ing could tu'n right upside down, Den p'raps we'd be on top an' givin' some one houn'.2 Yes, Cous' J arge, slabery hot fe dem dat gone befo' : We gettin' better times, for those days we no know i s But I t'ink it do good, tek we from Africa An' lan' us in a blessed place as dis a ya.4 Talk 'bouten Africa, we would be deh till now, Maybe same half-naked-all day dribe buccra cow, An' tearin' t'rough de bush wid all de monkey dem, Wile an' uncibilise',6 an' neber comin' tame. I No more than pure chance. 2 Hound: equivalent to the English slang phrase" giving some one beans." 8 Do not know: have no e xperi ence of. This here. 6 Wild and uncivilised.

PAGE 58

58 SONGS OF JAMAICA lIef' quite 'way from wha' we be'n deh talk about,! Yet still a couldn' help-de wuds come to me mout' ; Just like how yeas' get strong an' sometimes fly de cark,2 Same way me feelings grow, so I was boun' fe talk. Yet both horse partly 3 runnin' in de selfsame gallop, For it is nearly so de way de buccra puIl up: Him say, how de w ul' stan', dat right will neber be, But wrong will eber gwon 4 till dis wul' en' fe we. ) I have run right away from what we were ta l king abo ut. 2 Makes the cork fly. 3 Almost 4 Go on.

PAGE 59

DE DAYS DAT ARE GONE I T'INK of childhood days again, An' wish dat I was free To res' me baby head once more Upon me mudder's knee: If we had power to change dis life An' live it back again, We would be children all de time Nor fret at childhood's pain. I look on my school life of old, Dem sweet days dat are pas', An' wonder how I'd wish 1 to see Those dear times en' at las' : It was because I was a boy, An' knew not what b'en good; All time I tas'e de supple-jack, 2 Bein' I was so rude. An' 0' de marnings when I woke, 'Fo' you can see you' han', I mek me way on to de spring Fe full S me bucket-pan: I t'ought ofttimes dat it was hard For me to wake so soon; Dere was no star fe light de way, Much more de white roun moon I I c ould wish. 2 A cane. I Fill. Less. 59

PAGE 60

60 SONGS OF JAMAICA Still, childhood pain could neber las', An' I remem ber yet De many sorrows 'cross me pat' 1 Dat neber mek me fret: But now me joys are only few, I live because I'm boun', An' try fe mek my life of use Though pain lie all aroun'. I Across my p a th.

PAGE 61

REVEILLE SOUN'IN' REVEILLE I de reveille soun', Depot p'liceman mus' wake up; 1 Some mus' dress fe go to town, Some to Parade fe shake-up. 2 You lazy ones can lay down still, We have no time fe dat; De wake-ups comin' roun', an' you'll Jump as you feel de cat. For soon de half p as' dress 4 will blow Fe we to go a-drillin' ; De time is bery short, an' so We mus' be quick an' willin'. A marnin' bad e is sweet f e true,5 But we mus' quick fe done; It col' dough,6 so it's only few Can stan' it how it bu'n.7 1 Read thus: De-pilt p'lice-man mlls'-wake up. 2 Drill. s The with his cane. 4 The 5.30 bugle. 5 A mommg bathe is very, very d e licious. 6 It's c o ld though 7 C a n stand the burning, i.e., tbe chill. 61

PAGE 62

SONGS OF J AMAleA 'Tis quarter warnin' 1 soun'in' now Our arms mus clean an' soun ; We will ketch 'port 2 ef we allow A s peck fe lodge aroun'. Tip 8 blow yet? good Lard! hear" fall in," Must double pon de grass; I didn' know de las call be'n Deh blow on us so fas'. I Tbe 5.45 bugle. 2 Get reported. 3 A short s harp bugle-call, to s umm o n the m en be f o re the" f a ll in."

PAGE 63

OLD ENGLAND I'VE a longin' in me dept' s of heart dat I can conquer not, 'Tis a wish dat I've been havin' from $ince I could form a t'o't,l 'Tis to sail athwart the ocean an' to hear de billows roar, When dem ride aroun' de steamer, when dem beat on England's shore. Just to view de homeland England, in de streets of London walk, An' to see de famous sights dem 'bouten which dere's so much talk, An' to watch de fact'ry chimneys pourin' smoke up to de sky, An' to see de matches-children, dat I hear 'bout, passin' by. I would see Saint Paul's Cathedral, an' would hear some of de great Learnin' comin' from de bishops, preachin relics of old fait'; I Thought. 63

PAGE 64

SONGS OF JAMAICA I would ope me mout' wid wonder at de massIve organ soun', An' would 'train me eyes to see de beauty Iyin' all aroun'. I'd go to de City Temple, where de old fait' is a wreck, An' de parson is a-preachin' views dat most folks will not tek; I'd go where de men of science meet togeder in deir hall, To give light unto de real truths, to obey king Reason's call. I would view Westminster Abbey, where de great of England sleep, An' de solemn marble statues o'er deir ashes vigil keep; I would see immortal Milton an' de wul'-famous Shakespeare, Past'ral Wordswort', gentle Gray, an' all de great souls buried dere. I would see de ancient chair where England's kings deir crowns put on, Soon to lay dem by again when all de vanity is done; An' I'd go to view de lone spot where in peaceful solitude Rests de body of our Missis Queen,! Victoria de Good. : I Always so called in Jamaica.

PAGE 65

OLD ENGLAND An' dese places dat I sing of now shall afterwards impart All deir solemn sacred beauty to a weary searchin' heart; So I'll rest glad an' contented in me min'l for evermore, When I sail across de ocean back to my own native shore. I Mind. E

PAGE 66

I To like DAT DIRTY RUM IF you must drink it, do not come An' chat up in my face; I hate to see de dirty rum, Much more to know de tas'e. What you find dere to care about 1 I never understan' ; It only dutty up you mout', An' mek you less a man. I see it throw you 'pon de grass An' mek you want no food, While people scorn you as de y pass An' see you vomit blood. De fust beginnin' of it all, You stood up calm an' cool, An' put you' back agains' de wall An' cuss our teacher fool. 2 Abused our schoolmaster and c aUed him a fool. To" cuss" is to II abuse" : to II cuss bad word" is to "swear." 66

PAGE 67

DAT DIRTY RUM You cuss me too de se'fsame day Because a say you wrong, 1 An' pawn you' books an' went away Widout anedder song.2 Your parents' hearts within dem sink, When to your yout'ful lip Dey watch you raise de glass to drink, An' shameless tek each sip. I see you in de dancing-booth, But all your joy is vain, For on your fresh an' glowin' youth Is stamped dat ugly stain. Dat ugly stain of drink, my frien', Has cost you your best girl, An' mek you fool 'mongst better men When your brain's in a whirl. You may smoke just a bit indeed, I like de "white seal a well ; Aldough I do not use de weed, I'm fond 0 de nice smell. But wait until you're growin' old An' gettin' weak an' bent, An' feel your blood a-gettin' cold 'Fo' you tek stimulent. B ecause I said y ou were w r ong 2 Without anothe r \\ord The name of a br a n d of ciga r ette s

PAGE 68

68 SONGS OF J AMAleA Then it may mek you stronger feel While on your livin' groun' ; 1 But ole Time, creepin' on your heel, Soon, soon will pull you down: Soon, soon will pull you down, my frien', De rum will help her 2 too; An' you'll give way to better men, De best dat you can do.3 1 While in this life. 2 Time. I Which is the bes t thing you can do.

PAGE 69

HEART-STIRRINGS You axe me as de bell begin fe 'trike, Me Mikey, ef de wuk a didn' like j De queshton, like de bell, soun' in me heart Same how de anvil usual mek me 'tart.l You's a chil 2 an' know naught 'bout de wul' yet, But you'll grow an' larn t'ings you won't feget j You lub you' life, an' t'ink dere's nuttin' better, Yet all you' pickny dream dem soon will 'ketter.s Tek me advice ya, chil an' as you grow Don't choose a wuk dat you no like: aldough You might see money in 0' it, at lengt' You will get tired 0' it an' repent. A suffer, but I t'ink it mek me wise j It wasn' fe de money 'trike me yeyes, 4 But" water mo' 'an flour 6 is true wud, An' eye-water run too long tu'n to blood.6 1 Just as the sound o f an anvil-the speaker was a blacksmithmakes me start and arouses disagreeable recollections, so does your question. 2 Child S Scatter It wasn t the attraction of the high wages. 5 B eggars can't be c hoosers." T he reference is to dumpliJIis made with too much water. 6 This means that h e (th e speaker) was u nhap p y at home. 6g

PAGE 70

SONGS OF JAMAICA Hard life caan' kill me, but annoyance might, Me lub me right, an' fe it me w i' fight: Me wi' lef beef fe nyam an' choose cow-lung, Fe sabe meself from an annoying tongue.l But somet ime', chB', you jump from fryin'-pan 'Traight in a fire; an' try as you can, You caan' come out, but al ways wishin' den Fe get back in de fryin'-pan again. Ole Buccra Dabis, libing easy life, One night get mad an' kill himself an' wife; Den we hear t'ings we neber be'n kno w yet, De b'uccra man wa s ears an han's in debt. Miss Laura lean back in her rockin '-chair So sweet dat we might jes' t'ink she no care 'Bout naught; ye t some say dat 'c os s he caan get Mas' Charley fe him husban' 2 she deh fret Dat's how life tan ', 3 m e chiI'; dere i s somet'ing Dee p down in we dat you can n e ber bring P e ople, howeber wise, fe understan : Caan' feel man he a rt same how you feel dem han'. Fe lub, me chB', lub wha' you natur' hate! 4 You'll live in misery, prayin' hard fe fait', Which won't come eben ef you 'crub you' k n ees In fifty quart 0' corn an' lady-p e a s .G 1 Provo xv. 17; xvii. 1. Stand s = is. 2 Maste r Charley for h er husb a nd. If you t ry to mak e yourself l ove wha t your n at ur e h a tes. is partly an exclamation, partly an interrogation. l3lac k eye peas This l ine

PAGE 71

HEART-STIRRINGS Fe hate a t'ing you whole min' come in one: You try fe keep it 1 back much as you can, But" flesh caan' conquer 'perit" Bible say, You hab fe give it Up,2 an' den 'top pray. Me carry hell, me chit', in a me ches', Me laugh, me cry, me couldn' get no res' ; Eat all de same an' neber fatter less S Dan now, aldough me min' was so distress'. An' though a feel it hard, a wouldn' fret; Me min' don't mek so, but it eber set Fe conquer, yet it couldn' wash away De t'oughts dem dat come 'tronger ebery day. You 'stan', 4. me chil'? I caan' explain it mo : Life funny bad, so is de ways also; For what we fink is right is often wrong, We live in sorrow as we journey long. 1 The hatred. S Les s fat. 2 Give up trying. 4 Do you und e r stand?

PAGE 72

DE DOG-ROSE GROWIN' by de corner-stone,l See de pretty flow'r-tree blows, Sendin' from de prickly branch A lubly bunch 0' red dog-rose.2 An' de bunch 0' crimson red, Boastin' on de dark blue tree, Meks it pretty, prettier yet J es' as dat dog-rose can be.8 Young Miss Sal jes' 4 come from school: Freddy, fresh from groun' an' grub, Pick de dog-rose off de tree, Gib Miss Sal to prove his lub. Then I watch on as dem kiss Right aroun' de corner-stone, An' my heart grow vex' fe see How dem foolish when alone. An' I listen to deir talk, As dey say dey will be true j Eber true" I hear dem pledge, An' dat naught can part dem two. I Angle of the house. 2 A dark red sweetrose. S Makes it pretty-as pretty as it is possible for a dogrose to be. t Jast.

PAGE 73

DE DOG-ROSE De petchary 1 laugh an' jig, Sittin' on a bamboo low j Seems him guess, jes' like mese'f How de whole t'ing gwin' fe go. Time gwon,2 an' de rose is not: I see Fred, wi' eyes all dim, Huggin' up de corner-stone, For his love has jilted him j Left him for anedder man Wid a pile 0' money, Dat he carried from his land 0' de Injin coney. S Wonder whe' de petchary ? De rose-tree is dead an' gone j Sal sit in de big great-house, 4 Cooin' to her baby son. 73 1 Grey king.bird. I Goes on; passes away. 3 Eng l and or Scotland, the home of the In dia n con ey (comm on rabbit)-pr onounce d cunny. 4 The princ ip a l house o n a property is so called.

PAGE 74

A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE BOBBY No palm me up,! you dutty brute, You' jam mout' mash 2 l ike ripe bread-fruit; You fas'n now, but wa i t lee ya,a I'll see you grunt under de law. You t'ink you wise,4 but we wi see; You not de fus' one fas' wid me ; I'l1lib fe see dem tu'n you out, As sure as you got dat mash' mout'. I born right do'n beneat' de clack 5 (You ugly brute, you tu'n you' back?) Don' t'ink dat I'm a come-aroun',o I born right 'way in 'panish Town. l Don't put your hands on me. 2 Your d-d mouth is all awry 3 You are fast (meddling, officious) now but wait a little, d y o u hear? 4 You think you're wise. G The clock on the public buildings at Spanish Town. 6 Day labourers, m e n and women, in Kmgston streets and wharves, famous f or the heavy weights they carry, are called comearounds. 74

PAGE 75

A MIDNIGHT WOMAN TO THE BOBBY 7S Care how you try, you caan' do mo' Dan many dat was hyah befo ; 1 Yet whe' dey all 0' dem te-day 7 2 De buccra dem no kick dem 'way 78 K0 4 'pon you' jam samplattafi nose: 'Cos you wear Mis'r Koshaw elotes 6 You fink say youts de only man,7 Yet fus' timeS ko how you be'n 'tan'. u You big an' ugly ole tu'n-foot 10 Be'n neber know fe wear a boot; An' chigger nyam you' tumpa toe,l! Till nit full i' lik e herrin' roe. You come from mountain naked-'kin,1 2 An' Lard a mussy I yo u be'n thin, For all de bread-fruit dem b e'n done, Bein' 'poil' up by de tearin t sun: 18 1 No matter how y o u try, you can't do more than your predecessors (all that were here before). 2 Yet where are theyaJl today? S Did not the buccra (wh ite man) kick them away ( dismiss th em)? 4 Look. A piece of l eather cut somewhat larger than the size of the foot, and tied sandal wis e to it : said of anything that is fla t and broad 6 Mr Kershaw' s clothe s, i.e., police uniform. Col. Kershaw. Inspector-Gener a l of Police in 19II (when this poem wa s written) and for many years before. 7 A mighty fine fellow. 8 When I knew you first. 9 Look what sort of figure you cut. 1 0 Turned-in f o ot. II And chigoes (burrowing fleas) had eaten into your maimed toe, an d nits (young chigoes) had filled it Naked skin, i.e., with your s hirt and trousers full of holes. 13 Having been s poilt by the hot s un. Pronounce bein'" a s a monosyllable

PAGE 76

SONGS OF JAMAICA De coco 1 couldn' bear at all, For, Lard! de groun' was pure j An' t'rough de rain part 2 0' de year De mango tree dem couldn' bear. An' when de pinch 0 time you feel A 'pur you a you' chigger heel,s You lef you' district, big an' coarse, An' come join' buccra Police Force. An' now you don't wait fe you' glass,S But trouble me wid you' jam fas' j 6 But wait, me frien', you' day wi' come, I'll see you go same lak a some.7 Say wha' ?-'res' me? 8_you go to hell You t'ink T udge don't know unno well? 0 You t'ink him gwin' go sentance 10 me Widout a soul fe witness i'? I ,An e dible root (C%c a s ia ani/quorum) 2 During s ome month s 3 And when you felt hard times spurring you in your chigger. eaten heel. 4 C a me and join e d. Y o u don t wait for the right and proper moment. o With a ll your infernal forwardne s s and officiousnes s 7 Same like s ome = just a s others before you did. 8 What's that ? arre s t me? U D'you think the magi st rate doesn't know your tricks? Unno or Onnoo is an African word, meaning" you" collectively. 10 Pronounce the a ah,' but without acce nt.

PAGE 77

MOTHER DEAR "HuSBAN', I am goin'Though de brooklet is a-flowin', An' de coolin' breeze is blowin Softly by j Hark, how strange de cow is mooin', An' our Jennie's pigeons cooin' Wh i1e I feel de water 1 growi n Climbing high. Akee 2 trees are laden, But de yellow leaves are fadin' Like a young an' bloomin' maiden Fallen low j In de pond q,e ducks are wadin' While my body Ion?,s for Eden,s An' my weary breat is gledin' 'Way from you. "See dem John-crows 4 flyin' 'Tis a sign dat I am dyin' j Oh, I'm wishful to be lyin All alone: 1 The water of dropsy rising from the leg s toward s the heart. 2 Ctlpam'a sajida, bearing beautiful red fruits, 3 To English readers this and th e n ext (gledin'=gliding) wou' ld hardly seem to be rh ymes Nevertheless they a re so, T urkey-buzzard s 77

PAGE 78

SONGS OF JAMAICA Fait'ful husban', don't go cryin', Life i s one long self-deny in' All-surrenderin' an' Livin moan.' "Wife, de parson's prayin', Won't you listen what he's sayin', Spend de endin' of your day in Christ our Lord?" But de sound of horses neighin ', Baai n' goats an' donkeys brayin', T w itt'rin' birds an' children playin' Was all she heard. Things she had be e n rearin', Only those could claim her hearin', When de end we had been fearin' N ow had come : Now her last pain she is bearin', Now de fina l scene is nearin', An' her vacant eyes are starin' On her home. 1 Oh I it was heart-rendin' As we watched de loved life endin', Dat sweet sainted spirit bendin' To de death: Gone all further hope of mendin', With de angel Death attendin', An' his slayin' spirit blendin With her breath. I The sp ot in the garden she had cho sen for b er burial.plac e

PAGE 79

KITE-FLYING HIGHER fiy, my pretty kite, Over distant towers; Paper-made, red, blue an' white, All my fav'rite colours.l As up an' up an' up you mount On your way to heaven, Thoughts come, which I cannot count, Of the times I've striven Just to soar away like you, Rising to a happier sphere Deep within yon skies of blue, Far from all de strife an' care. You have got you' singer 2 on, Let me hear your singing, Hear you' pleasant bee-like tone On de breezes ringing. 1 Th e I is swa llo wed, a nd the rhyme is good. 2 A strip of pa p er s h ape d like a h a lf mo on, and s tretched on a th r ead running from o ne top co rner of the kite to the other. 79

PAGE 80

80 SONGS OF JAMAICA Wider dash your streamin' tail, Keep it still a-dancin As across de ditch you sail By the tree tops glancin Messengers 1 I send along, Lee round papers of bright red ; Up they go to swell you' song, Climbin' on the slimber 2 t'read Higher fiy, my pretty kite, Higher, ever higher; Draw me with you to your height Out the earthly mire I Round slips of p a per, which go twirling up the kite-string. 2 Sl e nd er.

PAGE 81

lONE SAY if you lub me, do tell me truly, lone, lone; For, 0 me dearie, not'in' can part we, lone, lone. Under de bamboo, where de fox-taill grew, lone, lone, While de cool breeze blew sweet, I did pledge you, lone, lone. Where calalu 2 grows, an' yonder brook flows, lone, lone, I held a dog-rose under your li'ls nose, lone, lone. There where de lee stream plays wid de sunbeam, lone, lone, True be'n de lo ve-gleam as a sweet day-dream, lone, lone. 1 A gras s with he avy plume s 2 Spinach, but n o t the Engli s h kind 3 Liltle. 8r F

PAGE 82

SONGS OF J AMAleA Watchin' de bucktoe1 under de shadow, lone, lone, Of a pear-tree low dat in de stream grow, lone, lone, Mek me t'ink how when we were lee children, lone, lone, We used to fishen 2 in old Carew Pen,s lone, lone. Like tiny meshes, curl your black tresses, lone, lone, An' my caresses tek widout blushes, lone, lone. Kiss me, my airy winsome lee fairy, lone, lone; Are you now weary, little canary, lone, lone? Then we will go, pet, as it is sunset, lone, lone; Tek dis sweet vi'let, we will be one yet, lone, lone. I Small crawfish. 2 Fish 3 The Jamaican equivalent for ranche.

PAGE 83

KILLIN' NANNY Two little pickny is watchin', While a goat is led to deat' j Dey are little ones of two years, An' know naught of badness yet De goat i s bawlin' fe mussy,] An' de children watc h de .sight As de butcher re'ch 2 his sharp knife, An' 'tab 8 wid all hi s might. Dey see de red blood flowin j An' one chil' trimble an' hide His face in de mudder's bosom, While t'udder look on wide-eyed. De tears is fallin' down hotly From him on de mudder's knee j De udder wid joy is starin', An' clappin' his han 's wid glee. When dey had forgotten Nanny, Grown men I see dem again j An' de forehead of de laugher Was brand' wid de mark of Cain. I Mercy 4 Branded. 2 Reaches, lay s hold of. Slabs

PAGE 84

MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME DERE is no land dat can compare Wid you w here'er I roam; In all de wul' none like you fair My native land, ,my home. Jamaica is de nigger's pla ce, No mind w h e' some declare; A lthou g h dem call we no-land race," I know we hom e is h e re. You g ive me lif e an' nourishment, No udder land I know; My lub I n ebe r can r e pent, For all to you lowe. E'en ef you mek me beggar die, I'll trust you all de same, An' none de less on you rely, Nor saddle you wid blame. Though y ou may cas' 1 me from your breas' An' trample me to deat', My heart will trus' you none de less, My land I won't feget. 1 Cast. 84

PAGE 85

MY NATIVE LAND, MY HOME 85 An' I hope none 0' your sons would Refuse deir strengt' to lend, An' drain de last drop 0' deir blood Their country to defend. You draw de t'ousan' from deir s hore, An' all 'long keep dem pleas e' ; 1 De invalid come here fe cure, You h e al all deir disease. Your fertile soil grow all 0 t'ings 2 To full de naygur's wants, 'Tis seamed wid neber-failing springs S To give dew to de plants.4 You hab all t'ings fe mek life bles', But buccra 'pail de whole Wid gove'mint6 an' all de res', Fe worry naygur soul. Still all d em little chupidness Cl Caan' tek away me lub; De time when I'll tu'n 'gains' you is When you can't give me grub. I And keep them amus ed and happy all a long (all the time of their stay). 2 All of (the) things 3 Brooks. 4 The dew falls heavily in the valleybottoms. 6 Government. G Those little s tupidne sses.

PAGE 86

TWO-AN'-SIX MERRY voices chatterin', Nimble feet dem patterin', Big an' little, faces gay, Happy day dis market day. Sateday 1 de marnin' break, Soon, soon market-people wake j An' de light shine from de moon While dem boy, wid pantaloon Roll up ober dem knee-pan, 'Tep 2 across de buccra lan' To de pastur whe' de harse 3 Feed along wid de jackass, An' de mule cant' in de track' Wid him tail up in him back, All de ketchin' to defy, No ca' how 5 dem boy might try. In de early marnin' -tide, When de cocks crow on de hill An' de stars are shinin' still, Mirri e by de fireside 1 Saturday. 2 Step. 3 Wher e the horse. 4 Canter s in the track. A Jamaican past ure is seamed with tracks m ade by the animals in walking. 3 I don't car e how; no matter how. 86

PAGE 87

TWO-AN'-SIX Hots 1 de coffee for de lads Comin' ridin' on de pads T'rown across dem animulDonkey, harse too, an' de mule, Which at last had corne do'n coo1.2 On de bit dem hoI' dem full : Racin' ober pastur' lan', See dem comin' ebery man, Comin' fe de steamin' tea S Ober hilly track an' lea. Hard-wuk'd donkey on de road Trottin' wid him ushal4 load,Hamper 5 pack' wi' yarn an' grain, Sour-sop,6 an' Gub'nor cane.7 Cous' Sun 8 sits in hired dray, Drivin' 'long de market way j Whole week grindin' sugar-cane T'rough de boilin' sun an' rain, Now, a'ter9 de toilin' hard, He goes seekin' his reward, While he's thinkin' in him min' Of de dear ones Ie' behin', Of de loved though ailin' wife, Darlin' treasure of his life, An' de picknies, six in all, Whose 'nuff1 0 burdens 'pon him fall : I Warms. 2 Given up his skitti s hnes s 3 Generic name for any non-alcoholic hot drink. 4 Usual, pronounced without the second u. n Panniers 6 At/ona 1Iluricafa-a fruit. 7 Governor cane; a yellow-striped sugar-can e 8 Cousin James. Sun is the regul a r nickname for James. o After. 10 Enough=many.

PAGE 88

88 SONGS OF JAMAICA Seben 1 lovin' ones in need, Seben hungry mouths fe feed j On deir wants he thinks alone, Neber dreamin' of his own, But gwin' on w id joyful face Till him re'ch 2 de market-place. Sugar bears no price te-day, Though it is de mont' 0' May, When de time is hellish hot, An' de water-cocoan ut 8 An' de cane bebridge 4 is nice Mix' up w id a lilly ice.6 Big an' little, great an' small, Afou yam is all de call j 6 Sugar tup an' gill 7 a quart, Yet de people hab de heart Wantin' brater8 top 0' i', Want de sweatin' higgler fe Ram de pan an' pile i' up, Yet sell i' fe so-so tup.9 Cousin Sun is lookin' sad, As de market is so bad j 'Pon him han' him res him chin, Quietly sit do'o thiokio' I Seven. 2 Till he r eaches 8 Immature cocoanut, the milk of which is a delicious drink 4 Beverage. 8 Mixed lip with a little ice. e The variety of yam called" ahfoo" is the thing principally a ske d for by young and old. 7 Tup (twop e nce of the old J a maica coinage) is rid: gill, id. So "tup and gill" is 2id. 11 Insist on having brahier a little e x tra on top of (over) the quart. 9 Sell it for a bare tup.

PAGE 89

TWO-AN'-SIX Of de loved wife sick in bed, An' de children to be fed-What de labourers would say When dem know him couldn' pay; Also what about de mill Whe' him hire 1 from ole Bill ; So him think, an' think on so, Till him t'oughts no more could go. Then he got up an' began Pickin' up him sugar-pan: 2 In his ears rang t'rough de din Only two-an'-six a tin! What a tale he'd got to tell, How bad, bad de sugar sell! Tekin' out de lee amount, Him set do n an' begin count; All de time him min' deh doubt S How expenses would payout j Ah, it gnawed him like de ticks, Sugar sell fe two-an'-six So he journeys on de way, Feelin' sad dis market day j No e 'en buy 4 a little cake To gi'e baby when she wake, Passin' 'long de candy-shop 'Douten eben mek a stop To buy drops fe las'y 5 son, For de lilly cash nea' done. I Which h e hires, or hired. 2 His pan s ( tins). 3 Hi s mind i s doubting 4 Doesn t even buy. La sty (Ia hsty), pet name f o r the Benjamin of a family.

PAGE 90

go SONGS OF JAMAICA So him re ch him own a groun', An' de children scamper roun ', Each one stretchin' out him han ', Lookin to de poor sad man. Oh, how much he felt de blow, As he watched dem face fal1low, When dem wait an' nuttin' came An' drew back deir han's wid shame! But de sick wife kissed his brow: "Sun, don't get down-hearted now; Ef we only pay expense We mus' wuk we common-sense, Cut an' carve, an' carve an' cut, Mek gill sarbe fe quattiewut' ; 1 We mus try mek two ends meet Neber mind how hard be it. We won't mind de haul an' pull, While dem pickny belly full." 2 An' de shadow lef' him face, An' him felt an inward peace, As he blessed his better part For her sweet an' gentle heart: "Dear one 0' my heart, my breat' Won' t I lub you to de deat'? When my heart is weak an' sad, Who but you can mek it glad?" So dey kissed an' kissed again, An' deir t'oughts were not on pain, But was 'way down in de sout' Where dey'd wedded in deir yout', 1 Make td. serve [orquattiewortb, rid. 2 If only the chi ldren h ave enough to eat.

PAGE 91

I Calcul ated. TWO-AN'-SIX In d e marnin' of deir lif e Free from all de grief an' strife, Happy in d e marnin' light, Never thinkin' of de night. So dey k lated 1 eberyt'ing; An' de profit it could bring, A ter all de business fix', 2 Was a princely two an'-six. 91 2 Afte r all the bus ines s was fixed, i.t. when the acco u nts were made up.

PAGE 92

COMPENSATION DERE is a rest-place for de weary feet, An' for de bitter cup a co nquering sweet: For sore an' burdened hearts dere'll be a balm, And after days of tempest comes a calm. For ev.ery smallest wrong dere is a right, An' t'rough de dark shall gleam a ray of light: Oppress ion for a season may endure, But tis true wud, "For ebery ill a cure." Den let me not t'ink hard of those who use Deir power tyrannously an' abuse: Let me remember always while I live, De noblest of all deeds is to forgive This, not revenge, is sweet: this lirs 1 d e soul An' meks it wort' while 2 in a empty wu l : Far better than an old an' outworn creed 'Tis each day to do one such noble deed. 1 Lifts 2 Something worth.

PAGE 93

* HEARTLESS RHODA KISS me, as you want it so ; Lub me, ef it wort' de while; 1 Yet I feel it an' I know 2 Oat, as t'rough de wul' you go, You will oft look back an' smile At de t'ings which you now do. Tek me to de church te-day, Call me wife as you go home; Hard fate, smilin at us, say S Dat de whole i s so-so play; Soon de ushal en' will come, An' we both will choice 4 our way. Spare you' breat', me husban' true, I be' n marry you fe fun: 5 Lub dat las' long is a few, 6 An' I hadn' much fe you. I be n tell you it would done,7 All whe' come is wha' you do. 8 1 L ove me, if it is worth while, .e. if you think it worth while. 2 Yet I feel and know. 3 Says. 4 Choose, i.e, go our several ways. 6 I married y ou with no serious purpo se 6 Seldom met with. 7 I did tell (told ) you it would soon come to an end. 8 All that has happened is your doing. 93

PAGE 94

94 J Oth e rs. SONGS OF JAMAICA Life I only care to see In de way dat udders 1 live; I experiment to be All dat fate can mek 0' me : Glad I tek all whe' she give, For I'm hopin' to be free. 2 2 A free paraphrase will best explain the meaning of these six lines. Rhoda sees other girls marry, and out of pure curiosity she wants to find out what married life is like. So she makes the experiment,-thongh this [marriage) is only one of the things that Fate has in store for her. And she takes gladly whatever Fate gives, always hoping (and meaning) to change the present experience for a n other.

PAGE 95

A DREAM THE roosters give the signal for daybreak, And through my window 1 pours the grey of morn j Refreshing breezes fan me as I wake, And down the valley sounds the wesly 2 horn. Day broadens, and lope the window wide, 3 And brilliant sunbeams, mixing, rush between The gaping blinds, while down at my bedside I kneel to utter praise to the Unseen. The torch-light glistens through the wattle-pane,4 And clouds of smoke wreathe upward to the skies j My brother at the squeezer juices cane, s And visions of tea-hour before me rise. 1 The window i s a jalousie, and its blind,s (slal s ) are shut. Word of uncer tain origin. The wcsly horn sounds when a ny work in common is to be undertaken. 9 Throw the slats into a horizontal position The bedroom is se p arated from the kitchen by p anes of undaubed watt le, through which i s seen the glimmer of the burning torch-wood. o At th e squeezer (a rough borne-made machine) i s extracting juice from suga r -ca nes. 9S

PAGE 96

SONGS OF JAMAICA Leaving the valley's cup the fleeting fog Steals up the hill-sides decked with sunbeams rare, Which send their search-rays 'neath the time-worn log, And drive the sleeping majoes 1 from their lair. But there are some yest'reve was the last For them to sleep into their watery bed; For now my treacherous fish-pot has them fast, Their cruel foe which they had so long dread'. 2 Right joyfully I hear the school-bell ring, And by my sister's side away I trot; I'm happy as the swee-swees 8 on the wing, And feel naught but contentment in my lot. I lightly gambol on the school-yard green, And where the damse S 4 by the bamboo grove In beautiful and stately growth are seen, For tiny shiny star-apples I rove. The morning wind blows softly past my door, And we prepare for work with gladsome heart; Sweetly the wesly horn resounds once more, A warning that 'tis time for us to start. I Pr onounce the ma as in French-fres hwater shrimps, which live in th e hillside brooklets. 2 Whom for so long a time they had dre a ded. S Quits. The n ame imitates their chirping song. 4 The d a m sel (corruption of damson, probably) i s like a small star a pple.

PAGE 97

A DREAM 97 I scamper quickly 'cross the fire-burnt soil, And the coarse grass-tufts prick my tender feet; I watch my father at his honest toil, And wonder how he stands the sun's fierce h e at. A winding footpath down the woodland leads, And through the tall fox-tails I wend my way Down to the brooklet where the pea-dove feeds, And bucktoes 1 in the water are at play And watching as the bubbles rise and fall, I hear above the murmur of the dale The tropic music dear to great and small, The joyous outburst of the nightingale Gone now those happy days when all was bl e st, For I have left my home and kindred dear; In a strange place I am a stranger's guest, The pains, the real in life, I've now to bear. No more again I'll idle at my will, Running the mongoose down upon the lea; No more I'll jostle 2 Monty up the hill, To pick the cashews a off the laden tree. I feel the sweetness of those days again, And hate, so hate, on the past scenes to look; All night in dreaming comes the awful pain, All day I groan beneath the iron yoke. 1 Small crawfish. 2 Race and foul. A fruit (Ana(ardium o( cid l1l/a/e ) G

PAGE 98

9 8 SONGS OF JAMAICA In mercy then, ye Gods, deal me swift death! Ah I you refuse, and life instead you give; You keep me here and stil1 prolong my breat h, That I may suffer al1 the days I live. 'Tis home again, but not the home of yore; Sadly the scenes of bygone days I view, And as I walk the olden paths once more, My heart grows chil1y as the morning dew. But see I to-day again my life is glad, My heart no more is lone, nor will it pine; A comfort comes, an earthly fairy clad In white, who guides me with her hand in mine. Her lustrous eyes gleam only tender love, And her, an angel form I see; I f ee d my spint on my gentle dove, My sweetheart Lee, my darling Idalee.1 And where the peenies glow with greenish fire, We kiss and kiss and pledge our hearts as true i Of sweet love-words and hugs we never tire, But felt more sorry that they were so few 1 This tacking of a sy lla ble on to well-kn own names is common in Jamaica.

PAGE 99

A DREAM I leave my home again, wand'ring afar But goes with me her true, her gentle heart, Ever to be my hope, my guiding star, And whisperings of comfort to impart. 99 Methinks we're strolling by the woodland stream, And my frame thrills with joy to hear her sing: But, 0 my God! 'tis all-'tis all a dream j This is the end, the rude awakening.

PAGE 100

RISE AND FALL [Thought s of Burns-with apologies to h is immortal s pirit for making him speak in Jamaica dialect ] DE Y read 1 'e m again an' again, An' laugh an cry 2 at 'em in turn ; I felt I was gettin' quite vain, But dere was a lesson fe learn. My poverty quickly took wing, Of life no experience had I ; I couldn' then want anyt'ing Dat kindness or money could buy. Dey tek me away from me lan', De gay 0' de wul' to behold, An' roam me t'rough palaces gran', An' show'red on me honour untold. I went to de ballroom at night, An' danced wid de belles of de hour; Half dazed by de glitterin' light, I lounged in de palm-covered bower. 1 Preterite. 2 L augh ed and cried. 100

PAGE 101

RISE AND FALL I flirted wid beautiful girls, An' drank 0' de wine flowin' red; I felt my brain movin' in whirls, An' knew I was losin' my head. But soon I was tired of it all, My spirit was weary to roam; 1 De life grew as bitter as gall, I hungered again for my home. Te-day I am back in me lan', Forgotten by all de gay throng, A poorer but far wiser man, An' knowin' de right from de wrong. 1 Sick of roaming 101

PAGE 102

BENEATH THE Y AMPY 1 SHADE WE sit beneat' de yampy shade, My lee sweetheart an' I j De gully 2 ripples 'cross de glade, Tom Rafflins S hurry by. Her pa an' rna about de fiel' Are brukin' 4 sugar-pine j An' plenty, plenty is de yiel', Dem look so pink 6 an' fine. We listen to a rapturous chune 6 Outpourin' from above j De swee-swees,7 blithesome birds of June, They sing to us of love. She plays wid de triangle leaves, Her hand within mine slips j She murmurs love, her bosom heaves, I kiss her ripe, ripe lips. 1 The Yampy, or Indian Yam, has v ery beautiful triangula r leaves. Yams of all kmds climb, like hops on sti cks or trees. v Brook. The word i s more generally u s ed in the sense of precipice. S M ad ants, which run very qui ckly .. B r eaki ng. Pin e-a pples are gathered by b e nding down the stalk, which snaps cleanly off. Choice, nic e Cf. the phrase, Pink of perfection. u Tune 1 Quits.

PAGE 103

BENEATH THE Y A MPY SHADE 103 De cockston e s 1 raise deir droopin' heads To vie w he r pretty feet; De s kellions 2 trimble in deir beds, Dey grudge our Iub so sweet Love sweeter than a bridal dream, A mudder's fondest kiss j Love purer than a crystal stream, De height of eart'ly bliss. We hear again de s w ee-swees' song Outpourin' on de air j Dey sing for yout', an' we are youn g An' know naught 'bouten care. We sit ben eat' de yampy shade We pledge our hearts an e w j De s wee -swees droop, d e b e ll-flower s 8 f a d e Before our love s o true. 1 Re d peas, Fren ch beans. 2 Sca lhons-a non bulbing o n ion. a Datura maveo!en s whos e great w h ite trumpets Aag as the sun get s hot

PAGE 104

TO INSPECTOR W. E. CLARK (ON THE EVE OF HIS DEPARTURE FOR ENGLAND) FAREWELL, dear Sir, a sad farewell An' as across the deep you sail, Bon voyage we wish you : We love you deepest as we can,! As officer an' With love Slncere an' true. Though often you have been our judge, We never owed you on e lee grudge, For you were always fair: So, as the sad farewell we say, May Neptune guide you, Sir, we pray, With ever watchful care. But as you travel to our home,2 Sad are the strange thoughts which will come, Bringin' an aching pain i That as this is a fitful life, With disappointments ever rife, We may not meet again. I With all our heart. 2 England.

PAGE 105

TO INSPECTOR W. E. CLARK lOS Yet while our hearts are filled with grief, The god of hope brings sweet relief An' bids us not despair: Of all our thoughts we cannot tell, But wish you, Sir, a fond farewell, A farewell of good cheer. :lIst May, 191 I.

PAGE 106

TO CLARENDON HILLS AND H. A. H. LOVED Clarendon hills, Dear Clarendon hills, Oh! I feel de chills, Yes, I feel de chills Coursin' t'rough me frame When I call your name,l Dear Clarendon hills, Loved Clarendon hills. Wand'rin', wand'rin' far, Weary, wan'drin' far 'Douten guidin' star, Not a guidin' star, Still my love's for you Ever, ever true, Though I wander far, Weary wander far. H. A. H., my frien', Ever cherished frien', I'll return again, Yes, return again: Think, 0 think of me Tossed on life's dark sea, H. A. H., my frien', Dearest, fondest frien'. 1 S p eak of you 106

PAGE 107

TO CLARENDON HILLS AND H. A. H. 107 Ah, dear frien 0' mine, Love me, frien' 0' mine, Wid that love of thine Passin' love of womenkin 1 More dan love of women kin' : Clasp me to your breast, Pillow me to rest, Fait'ful frien' 0' mine, Truest frien' 0' mine. Though you may be sad, Sorrowin' an' sad, Never min' dat, lad, Don't you min' dat, lad I Live, 0 live your life, Trample on de strife, Though you may be sad, Always, always sad. Loved Clarendon hills, Cherished frien' 0' mine, Oh, my bosom thrills, Soul an' body pine: Trough de wul' I rove, Pinin' for your love, Blest Clarendon hills, Dearest frien' 0' mine. J 2 S am i 26.

PAGE 108

WHEN YOU WANT A BELLYFUL WHEN you want a bellyful, Tearin' piece 0' one,! Mek up fire, wash you' pot, Full i' wid cockstone. Nuttin' good as cockstone soup For a bellyful; Only, when you use i' hot, You can sweat no bull.2 An' to mek you know de trut', Dere's anedder flaw; Ef you use too much 0' i', It wi' paunch you' maw.s I This whole line is a single intensifying adjective; and the two lines ar e equivalent to "When you want a tremendous bellyful." It makes you sweat like a (' no '-pronounced very short in this s ense) bull. a Mak e your belly swell. 108

PAGE 109

WHEN YOU WANT A BELLYFUL 109 Growin' wid de fat blue corn, Pretty cockstone peas-Lilly blossom, vi'let-like, 1 Drawin' wuker bees -We look on dem growin' dere, Pokin' up dem head, Lilly, lilly, t'rough de corn, Till de pod dem shed.2 An' we watch de all-green pods Stripin' bit by bit; Green leaves gettin yellow coat, Showin dey were fit.8 So we went an' pull dem Up,4 Reaped a goodly lot, Shell some 0' de pinkish grain, Put dem in a pot.6 But I tell you, Sir, again, Cockstone soup no good; 6 From experience I fink 'Tis de wus' 0' food.7 I Violet coloured. 2 Until the pods are formed 3 Showing that the peas were fit to pick. These red peas are pulled up b y the roots. In the pot. 6 Is not good. 7 The worst of foods.

PAGE 110

rIO SONGS qF J AMAleA When de reapin -time come roun I d?, fe me part ; 1 Sellin i when it get scarc e, For a bob a quart.2 When you need a bellyful, Grip!n' piece 0' one, Shub up fire under pot, Put in dry cockstone. I I dry my share. The usu a l price is I bil, i.e.,

PAGE 111

STROKES OF THE TAMARIND SWITCH I DARED not look at him, My eyes with tears were dim My spirit filled with hate Of man's depravity, I hurried through the gate. I went but I returned, While in my bosom burne d The monstrous wrong that we Oft bring upon ourselves, And yet we cannot see. Poor little erring wretch I The cutting tamarind switch Had left its bloody mark, And on his legs were streaks That looked like boiling bark.1 1 F l oo r s a r e dye d w i t h a b l oo d r e d dec o ctio n m a d e from the bark o f t r ees. 1 1 [

PAGE 112

112 SONGS OF JAMAICA I spoke to him the while: At first he tried to smile, But the long pent-up tears Came gushingin a flood; He was but of tender years. With eyes bloodshot and red, He told me of a father dead And lads like himself rude, Who goaded him to wrong: He for the future promised to be good. The mother yesterday Said she was sending him away, Away across the seas: She told of futile prayers Said on her wearied knees. I wished the lad good-bye, And left him with a sigh: Again I heard him talk-His limbs, he said, were sore. He could not walk. I 'member when a smaller boy, A mother's pride, a mother's. joy, I too was very rude: They beat me too, though not the same,l And has it done me good? 1 Not 50 severely.

PAGE 113

STROKES OF TAMARIND SWITCH 113 NOTE BY THE AUTHOR.T his was a lad of fifteen. No doubt he deserved the Bogging admin i stered by order of the Court: still, I could not bear to see him-my own Besh-stretched out over the bench, so I went away to the Post Office near by. When I returned, all was over. I saw his naked bleeding form, and through the terrible ordeal-so they told me-he never cried. But when I spoke to him he broke down, told me between his b ur sts of tears how he had he en led as tray by bad companions, and that his mother intended sending him over sea. He co uld sca rcely walk, so I gave him tickets for th e tram. He had a trustful face. A few minutes aft er, my bitterness of spi rit at the miser able necessity of such punishment came f orth in song, which I le ave rugged and unpolished as I wrote it at the moment. H

PAGE 114

MY PRETTY DAN I HAVE a policeman down at de Bay,l An' he is true to me though far away. I love my police, and he lov es me too, An' he has promis ed he'll be ever true. My little bobby is a darJin' one, An' he 's de prettiest you could set eyes pon. When he be'n station up de countryside, Fus' time I shun him sake 0' foolish pride. But as I watched him patrolling his beat, I got to find out he was nice an' neat. More still I foun' out he was extra kin', An' dat his precious heart was wholly mine. Den I became his own a true sweetheart, An' while life last we're hopin' not fe part. 1 Morant Bay a nd si milarly n amed seasi de towns are always called 'the Bay' by tbe people of the dist rict. 114

PAGE 115

MY PRETTY DAN He wears a truncheon an a handcuff case, An' pretty cap to match his pretty face. 115 Dear lilly p liceman stationed down de sout', I feel your kisses rainin' on my mout'. I could not give against I a policeman; For if I do, how could I lub my Dan? Prettiest of naygur is my dear police, We'lliub foreber, an' our lub won't cease. I have a policeman down at de Bay, An' he is true to me though far away. 1 Re vile, abu se v ilify.

PAGE 116

RIBBER COME-DO'N 1 FROM de top 0' Clarendon hill Chock down to Clarendon plain De ribber is rushin' an tearin' 'Count 0' de showers 0' rain. An' a mudder, anxious an' sad, Two whole days be'n gone away, A-buyin' fresh fish fe tu'n han'2 Slap do'n at Old Harbour Bay. But de dark ribber kept her back, Dat night she couldn' get home, While a six-week-old baby wailed, An' wailed for a mudder to come. An' a fader too was away 'Cross de Minhas wukin' him groun',4 So him couldn' get home dat night Sake 0' de ribber come-do n. 1 The river in flood To peddle. a The Rio Minho: pronounce miner.' Culti vating his ground or provision-field. 116

PAGE 117

RIBBER COME-DO'N Dere were four udder little ones 'Sides de babe of six weeks old, An' dey cried an' looked to no use, J An' oh dey were hungry an' cold! So de lee fourteen-year-old gal, De eldest one 0' de lot, Was sad as she knelt by the babe An' byaed 2 her on de cot. Bya, bya, me baby, Baby want go sleepy." She look 'pan de Manchinic 8 tree, N at a piece of mancha fe eat; De Jack-fruit dem bear well anuff, But dere wasn't one 0' dem fit. 4 Nor puppa nor mumma could come, Aldough it be'n now nightfall ; De rain pour do'n an' de wind blow, An' de picknanies dem still bawl. So de poo' Milly tarted out To whe' a kin neighbour lib Fe see ef a bite 0 nenyam 6 Dem couldn' p 'raps manage fe gib. 1 In v ai n 2 A verb formed from hushaby. 117 9 Martinique, the best variety o f Banana Hence mancha for banana. 4 Ripe. Food.

PAGE 118

'JS SONGS OF JAMAICA II Ebenin', cousin Anna, Me deh beg you c ouple banna,l For dem tarra one 2 i s berry hungry home; We puppa ober May, a ma, We mumma gone a Bay, ma An' we caan' tell warra' time dem gwin' go c om e." The kind district mother thought Of her own boy far away, An' wondered much how he fared In a foreign land that day. She opened de cupboard door An' took from it warra be n sabe A few bit s 0' yam an' lee meal, An' a pint 0 milk fe de babe. De parents dat night couldn' come, D e ho w lin wind didn lull, But de picknanies went to bed Wid a nuff nuff bellyful. 1 I am begg ing a few bananas of you. Those other ones i.e ., tbe little chi ldr en at home. l Over at Mayfield. 4 Wha t.

PAGE 119

A COUNTRY GIRL ,LELIA gal, why in this town do you stay? Why, tell me, why did you wander a way? Why will you aimlessly foolishly roam, Won't you come back to your old country home? Country life, Fed, has no pleasures for me, I wanted de gay 0' de city to see, To wear ebery Sunday a prettier gown, Da's why I came to de beautiful town." "Well, have you gotten de joys dat you sought? If so, were not all 0' dem too dearly bought? Yes, Liel, you do wear a prettier dress, But have you not suffered, my girl, more or less? "Hold up your head! look not down, tell me truth, Have you not bartered your innocent youth? Are you de Lelia, true Lelia, of old, Or have you swopped out your honour for gold? "Fed, it was horrid de lone country life I I suffered-for sometimes e'en hunger was rife; An' when I came, Fed, to try my chance here, I thought there would be no more troubles to bear. 119

PAGE 120

120 S ONGS OF JAMAICA But trou bl es there were an' in plenty, my lad, Oh, dey were bitter, an' oh, I was sad I Weary an' baffled an' hungry an' lone, I gave up my spirit to sigh an' to moan. "After dat?-O, Feddy, press me not so: D e truth ?-well, I s an k to d e lowest of d e low; I gave up all honour, I took a new name An' tried to be happy, de e p sunk in de shame. "Dere was no other w ay, Fed, I could live, Dat was de gift dat a gay town could give; I tried to be glad in de open daylight, But sorrowed an' moan e d in d e dee p 0' de night. "No, Fed, I n eve r could go home again: 'Worse than I left it?' ah, th ere was de pain, To m eet up wid some 0 m y former sc hool mates An' listen to all 0 d eir taunts an' deir hate s Dere now, you bound me to tell you 0' a ll, Of all de sad s uff'rings dat led to my fall ; I'm g one past reclaiming, so what must I do But live de bad life an' mek de good go?" "Lelia, I want you to come out de sin, Come home an' try a new life fe begin; Mek up you min', gal, fe wuk wid you' han', Plant peas an' corn in de fat country Ian'. Dere IS no life, gal, so pleasant, so good, Conte nt e d and happy y ou'll eat your le e food; No one at home know 'bout wha' you've jes' said, So, Liel, of exposure you needn't be 'fraid."

PAGE 121

A COUNTRY GIRL 12 J "Don't t'ink I care 'bout exposure, my boy! Dat which you call sin is now fe me joy; Country for Lelia will have no more charm, I'll live on de same way, 'twill do me no harm. "And after all, many gals richer than me, Pretty white girlies of better degree, Live as I do, an' are happy an' gay, Then why should not I be as happy as they? ,.

PAGE 122

MY SOLDIER-LAD SEE yonder soldier-lad In Zouave jacket clad? His lovin' heart is mine, His heart so bright an' glad; My soul an' spirit combine To love my soldier-lad o my dear lilly soldier-lad, I am true an' so are you ; And oh, my lovin' heart is glad, For I know that you are true. My pretty soldier-boy, He is my only joy: He loves me with his might, A love without alloy, My one, my true delight, My pretty soldier-boy. o my dear lilly soldier-lad, etc. My own lee soldier true, He is a bandsman too; An' when he's in the stand, His sweet eyes playin' blue, He carries off the band, My handsome soldier true. o my dear lilly soldier-lad, etc. 122

PAGE 123

MY SOLDIER-LAD My precious lilly pet, He plays a clarinet: De gals dem envy me, But him they cannot get; O em hate we both to see, Me an' my preciou s pet. o my dear lilly soldier-lad, etc. Where coolin breezes blow, An' silvery gullies flow Do'n t'rough de bamboo grove, The amorous pea-doves coo: They' re cooin' of my lo ve While freshenin' bre ezes blo w o my dear lilly so ldier-l ad, etc My dear Berm udan lad In baggy trousies clad, I love you wid whole heart, A heart that's true an' glad; Our love can never part, My darlin' bandsy lad. o my dear lill y soldier-lad, etc. 123

PAGE 124

MY MOUNTAIN HOME DE mango tree in yellow bloom, De pretty akee seed, De mammee where de J ohn-to-whits 1 come To have their daily feed, Show you de place where I was born, Of which I am so proud, 'Mongst de bananafield an corn On a lone mountain-road. One Sunday marnin' 'fo' de hour Fe service-time come on, Ma say dat I be'n born to her Her little las'y 2 son. Those early days be'n neber dull, My heart was ebergreen ; How I did lub my little wul' Surrounded by pingwin I S An' growin' up, with sweet freedom About de yard I'd run ; An' tired out I'd hide me from De fierc e heat of de sun. I Pronounce in two syllable s 2 L a sty, diminutive of" la st The wild pineapple (Brollle /ia Pinguin). 124

PAGE 125

MY MOUNTAIN HOME 125 So glad I was de fus' day when Ma sent me to de spring; I was so happy feelin' then Dat I could do somet'ing. De early days pass quickly 'long, Soon I became a man, An' one day found myself among Strange folks in a strange Ian My little joys, my wholesome min ', Dey bullied out 0' me, And made me daily mourn an' pine An' wish dat I was free. Dey taught me to distrust my life, Dey taught me what was grief; For months I travailed in de strife, 'Fa' I could find relief But I'll return again, my Will, An' where my wild ferns grow An' weep for me on Dawkin's Hill, Dere, Willie, I shall go. An' dere is somet'ing near forgot, Although I lub it best; I t is de loved, de hallowed spot Where my dear mother rest.

PAGE 126

[26 SONGS OF JAMAICA Look good 1 an find it, Willie dear, S e e dat from bush 'tis free j Remember that my heart is near, An' you say you lub me. An' plant on it my fav'rite fern, Which I be'n usual wear j I n days to come I shall return To end my wand'rin's dere. I Carefully.

PAGE 127

TO BENNIE (IN ANSWER TO A LETTER) You say, dearest comrade my love has grown cold, But you are mistaken, it burns as of old; And no power below, dearest lad, nor abov e Can ever lessen, frien' Bennie, my lo v e. Could you but look in my eyes, you would se e That 'tis a wrong thought you have about me ; Could you but feel my hand laid on your head, Never again would you say what you've said. Naught, 0 my Bennie, our friendship can sever, Dearly I love you, shall love you for ever; Moment by moment my thoughts are of you, Trust me, oh, trust me, for aye to be true. IZ7

PAGE 128

HOPPING OFF THE TRAM I T would not stop, So I took a hop, An', Lard oh, my foot a miss! 1 It sent me do'n Slam on de groun', An' I had a dusty kiss. The car 'long With its hummin' song, An' I too went my way; But the sudden fall I did recall, And shall for many a day. 1 Tripped. 128

PAGE 129

TO A COMRADE 1 LITTLE comrade, never min' Though another is unkin' i /I Of de pain 0' dis ya wul' We must suck we bellyful." 2 Little comrade, moan not so, Oh, you fill my heart with woe! Sad I listen to your cries, you ope your burnin' eyes? Little comrade, though 'tis hot, S Say you will revenge him not: 4 Talk not thus, you mek me grieve, Promise me you will forgive. Little comrade, never min' Though a brother is unkin' i Treat him kindest as you can, Show yourself the better man. ) A c o rro s ive fluid had been wilfully thrown in his f a ce. -Ate. 2 See WIl e'le do, which the author a nd hi s little comrade had been reading together. 3 Painful. 4 Tell me you will not t a ke v e ng e ance o n him. 129

PAGE 130

JUBBAI My J ubba waiting dere fe me j Me, knowin', went out on de spree, An' she, she wait deh till midnight, Bleach-bleachin' in de cold moonlight: An' when at last I did go home I found out dat she had just come, An' now she tu'n her back away, An' won't listen a wud I say. Forgive me, Jubba, Jubba dear, As you are standing, standing there An' I will no more mek you grieve, My J ubba, ef you'll but forgive. I'll go to no more dancing booth, I'll play no more wid flirty Ruth, I didn' mean a t'ing, Jubba, I didn' know you'd bex fe da' ; I only took two set 0' dance An' at de bidding 2 tried me chance j I buy de big crown-bread fe you, An' won't you tek it, Jubba ? do. I The It has the value of the 00 in look. 2 An auction of lo av e s of fine bread, profusely decorated :by the bake r 's art, is a f ea ture of rust i c danc es 130

PAGE 131

JUBBA Forgive me, J ubba, J ubba dear, etc. It was a nice tea-meeting though, None 0' de boy dem wasn' slow, An' it was pack' wid pretty gal, So de young man was in dem sall i 1 But when I 'member you a yard 2 I know dat you would t'ink it hard, Aldough, Jubba, 'twas sake 0' spite Mek say you wouldn' come te-night. s Forgive me, Jubba, Jubba dear, etc. lIef' you, J u b, in such a state, I neber knew dat you would wait i Yet all de while I couldn' res', De t'ought 0' you was in me breas' ; So nummo time I couldn' was'e, But me go get me pillow-case 4 An' put in deh you bread an' cakeForgive me, Jubba, fe God sake I Forgive me, Jubba, Jubba dear, etc. 1 So the young men had a fine time of it 2 In the yard, i.e., a t home. 131 8 Out of caprice Jubba had refused to go t o the dance: she was jealously w a tching o utside the booth, while her young man imagined s he was at hom e The usual recept a cle for bread.

PAGE 133

APPENDIX OF TUNES

PAGE 134

.;

PAGE 135

APPENDIX 135 TAKEN ABACK Alldalltill,Q. Let me go, Joe, for I want go home: Can't r.t> r stan' wid you, For pa might go come; An'if him on Iy hab him rum, I @?iC=I T H don t know what e ber I'll do. r.s= -G=: ==----IC Go wid you, Joe ?-you don't lub me den I I r s M shame 0' you-Gals c aan' trust you men I An I be'n tek in' you fe me frien'; Good night, J oe you 've prov-en un true

PAGE 136

APPENDIX PLEADING A /legrello. ------:. -. ---!fyou lub me, Joanie, on-Iy tell me, dear, Do no t i I == ,. --===::3 ------r--. b e s o cold when my lub i s b old; D o not m e k dis burn i n' h ea rt 0' mine get rlr ear, T a k it '83: for y o ur own For 'tis yours a l o ne

PAGE 137

APPENDIX 137 lONE Alltgro. I r F F I J impJ J f Say if you lub me, do tell me tru Iy, For, 0 me dear-ie not'-in' can part we, I -0 ne, I -0 ne; Tek dis s weet vi' l e t, we will be one yet, ]I -I 0 ne I 0 ne, My PRETTY DAN Alltgro,_, ____ I have a po l ice man down at de Bay An he is true to me tho' far a, way, alia fi,_1z_e, __ far a w ay.

PAGE 138

APPENDIX My SOLDIER LAD Alleretfq, ee yonder so ldier lad in zouave jac-ket ?fEt clad? His lov in' heart is mine, His heart so bright an' glad j My soul an' spirit com-bine to love my sol-dier J dID lad, 0 r---G my dear iii Iy so l dier lad, I am true an' so are y ou, And oh, my lov in' he art is g l ad -For I know that you are true,

PAGE 139

APPENDIX 139 JUBBA. AI/datlte -(' My Jubba wait ing dere fe me; Me, know in', went out on de spree, An' she, she -... wait deh till mid.night, Bleachbleachin' in de cold moon light: An' when at last I did go home I found out dat she had jus t come, An' now she lu'n her back a Jub ba, Jub ba dear, As y o u are slandin', slandin'

PAGE 140

140 APPENDIX J JIJ the r e An' I will no more mek y o u grieve, My Jub ba, I ... -ef you'll but rail. a IeIllPO Jb IJlttftte4 J4j -( or give -, An' I will no more mek you, rallmtalldo $A grieve :\1y Jub ba e ( yuu'll i!t lor gi v e. PRINTED AT THE E DINBURGH PR ESS, 9 AND II Y O UN G STREET.

PAGE 142

LSU UBRARlES 1111111111111I111111111111111111 111111 1 3 1518 011 912 262 PS M c Kay Cla. ude 3525 S ongs of Jamaica. A24 7 85S6 LOUISIANA STATE UNIVERSITY" LIBRARY, BATON ROUGE Do not remove slip from pocket. In the event the book is returned without this slip. a pen alty of $1.00 will be charged.


xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
REPORT xmlns http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitss xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.fcla.edudlsmddaitssdaitssReport.xsd
INGEST IEID EUXM0F2LQ_8GE6KK INGEST_TIME 2012-09-24T13:01:14Z PACKAGE AA00011909_00001
AGREEMENT_INFO ACCOUNT UF PROJECT UFDC
FILES