Constab Ballads (1912)


OF all de people I don’t like,
A chief one is de bummer;[1]
He bums around from morn to night
Trough winter an’ t’rough summer.

Ef we should go aroun’ John’s shop,
An’ he ketch scent o’ rum’s up,
You’ll soon see’m pokin’ up him nose
Wid him bare-face an’ comes-up.

Ef we are smokin’ cigarette,
He wants a part of it too;
An’ ebery bluff you gi’e to him,
He’s answer got to fit you.

Anedder thing I really hate
Is, when de touris’ come in,
To see some people flockin’ dem,
An’ ebery one a-bummin’.

I think it is an ugly sight
To see a bummin’ bobby;
Yet plenty o’ dem tek it for
A precious piece of hobby.[2]

I proud ’nuff o’ me uniform
Not ever to be rummy;
Much mo’ fe lower do’n mese’f
An’ mek my min’ feel bummy.

If people like to see somet’ing,
It is a bobby quaffin’
A glass or two o’ common rum,
Then drunk, dey start a-laughin’.

I tell you, all my comrades dear,
Dough your pay might be little,
Don’t cringe an’ fawn ‘fore richer men,
Deir pelf’s not wort’ a tittle.

My pay is small, an’ yet I live
An’ feel proud as a lord too;
Ef you’ll be men you soon will find
How much it can reward you.

De honest toil is pure as gold,
An’ he who wuks a penny
Can mek his life as much wort’ while
As he who earns a guinea.

Our trouble is dat those above
Do oftentimes oppress;
But we’ll laugh at or pity dem,
Or hate dem mo’ or less.

So we mus’ mek de best o’ t’ings,
An’ never be too rummish;
‘Twill help us many ways, an’ ‘top
Us all from bein’ bummish.

  1. Bumming: cadging, begging for gifts. The 'u' has the value of the oo in book
  2. Many of them make it their favourite practice


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