Songs of Jamaica (1912)

Beneath the Yampy Shade

[Footnote on title: “Yampy”[1]]

WE sit beneat' de yampy shade,
My lee sweetheart an' I;
De gully[2] ripples 'cross de glade,
Tom Rafflins[3] hurry by.

Her pa an' ma about de fiel'
Are brukin'[4] sugar-pine;
An' plenty, plenty is de yiel',
Dem look so pink[5] an' fine.

We listen to a rapturous chune
Outpourin' from above;
De swee-swees, blithesome birds of June,
They sing to us of love.

She plays wid de triangle leaves,
Her hand within mine slips;
She murmurs love, her bosom heaves,
I kiss her ripe, ripe lips.

De cockstones[6] raise deir droopin' heads
To view her pretty feet;
De skellions[7] trimble in deir beds,
Dey grudge our Iub so sweet —

Love sweeter than a bridal dream,
A mudder's fondest kiss
Love purer than a crystal stream,
De height of eart'ly bliss.

We hear again de swee-swees' song
Outpourin' on de air;
Dey sing for yout', an' we are young
An' know naught 'bouten care.

We sit beneat' de yampy shade,
We pledge our hearts anew;
De swee-swees droop, de bell-flowers[8] fade
Before our love so true.

  1. The Yampy, or Indian Yam, has very beautiful triangular leaves. Yams of all kinds climb, like hops, on sticks or trees
  2. Brook. The word is more generally used in the sense of precipice
  3. Mad ants, which run very quickly
  4. Breaking. Pine-apples are gathered by bending down the stalk, which snaps cleanly off
  5. Choice, nice. Cf. the phrase, Pink of perfection
  6. Red peas, French beans
  7. Scallions—a non-bulbing onion
  8. Datura saveolens, whose great white trumpets flag as the sun gets hot


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