Songs of Jamaica (1912)

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[3] 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 plug[4] an’ dig;
For ebery single man, no car’[5] about dem rank,
Him bring us ebery one an’ put ‘pon de same plank.

Say, parson do de same?[6] Yes, in a’dift’ren’ way,
For parson tell us how de whole o’ we are clay;
An’ lookin’ close at t’ings, we hab to pray quite hard
Fe swaller wha’ him say an’ don’t t’ink bad o’ Gahd.

But dis man tell us ‘traight ’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 eart’,
An’ dat most hardship come t’rough accident o’ birt’.

Him show us all a sort[7] 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 t’ings come ‘quare, same so it was to go:[9]
Seems our lan’[10] must ha’ been a bery low-do’n place, .
Mek it tek such long time in tu’ning out a race.

Yes, from monkey we spring: I believe ebery wud;
It long time better dan f’go 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 realIy strange how some o’ de lan’ dem advance;
Man power in some ways is nummo soso chance;[11]
But suppose eberyt’ing could tu’n right upside down,
Den p’raps we’d be on top an’ givin’ some one houn’.[12]

Yes, Cous’ Jarge, slabery hot fe dem dat gone befo’:
We gettin’ better times, for those days we no know;[13]
But I t’ink it do good, tek we from Africa
An’ lan’ us in a blessed place as dis a ya.[14]

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’,[15] an’ neber comin’ tame.

l Ief’ quite ‘way from wha’ we be’n deh talk about,[16]
Yet still a couldn’ help — de wuds come to me mout’;
Just like how yeas’ get strong an’ sometimes fly de cark,[17]
Same way me feelings grow, so I was boun’ fe talk.

Yet both horse partly[18] runnin’ in de selfsame gallop,
For it is nearly so de way de buccra puIl up:
Him say, how de wul’ stan’, dat right will neber be,
But wrong will eber gwon[19] till dis wul’ en’ fe we.

  1. Make I = let me
  2. There
  3. 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."
  4. Plough, i.e., pick up the ground with a pickaxe
  5. Care
  6. Do you say that parson does the same?
  7. All sorts
  8. The queerest animals
  9. 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
  10. Africa
  11. No more than pure chance
  12. Hound: equivalent to the English slang phrase 'giving someone beans.'
  13. Do not know: have no experience of
  14. This here
  15. Wild and uncivilized
  16. I have run right away from what we were talking about
  17. Makes the cork fly
  18. Almost
  19. Go on


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