Constab Ballads (1912)

A Labourer’s Life Give Me

I WAS never ashamed o’ de soil,
So you needn’t remind me of it;
I was born midst de moil an’ de toil,
An’ I’ll never despise it a bit.

“Sen’ me back to de cutliss an’ hoe! ”
I don’t mind, Sir, a wud dat you say,
For little, it seems, you do know
Of de thing dat you sneer at to-day.

If I’d followed a peasant’s career,
I would now be a happier lad;
You would not be abusing me here,
An’ mekin’ me sorry an’ sad.

Fool! I hated my precious birthright,
Scornin’ what made my father a man;
Now I grope in de pitchy dark night,
Hate de day when me poo’ life began.

To de loved country life I’ll return,
I don’t mind at all, Sir, if you smile;
As a peasant my livin’ I’ll earn,
An’ a labourer’s life is worth while.

As a labourer livin’ content,
Wid at night a rest-place for me head,
Oh! how gaily my life will be spent,
Wid de baneful ambition gone dead.

An’ when, after a day’s wukin’ hard,
I go home to a fait’ful wifee,
For my toilin’ dere’ll be its reward,
A peaceful heart happy an’ free.

An’ me children shall grow strong an’ true,
But I’ll teach dem dat life is a farce,
An’ de best in dis wul’ dey can do
Is to bear with content its sad cross.

So I’ll make meself happy at home,
An’ my life will be pleasanter yet;
I will take de hard knocks as dey come,
But will conquer de worry an’ fret.

Oh! a labourer’s life’s my desire
In de hot sun an’ pure season rains,
When de glow o’ de dark-red bush fire
Sends a new blood a-flow’n’ t’rough me veins.


Icon for the Public Domain license

This work (Poems by Claude McKay by Claude McKay) is free of known copyright restrictions.