Songs of Jamaica (1912)

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 ripe,
Dem use it ebery day;
It scarcely give dem belly-gripe,
Dem eat it diffran’ way.[5]

Out yonder see somoke[6] a rise,
An’ see de fire wicket;[7]
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.

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[10]
From bunches big an’ ‘trong;
Pure nine-han’ bunch a car’ de fame,—[11]
Ole met’od all along.

De cuttin’ done same ole-time way,
We wrap dem in a trash,[12]
An’ pack dem neatly in a dray
So tight dat dem can’t mash.

We re’ch:[13] banana finish sell;[14]
Den we ‘tart back fe home:
Some hab money in t’read-bag[15] well,
Some spen’ all in a rum.

Green mancha mek fe naygur man,
It mek fe him all way;[16]
Our islan’ is banana lan’,
Banana car’ de sway.[17]

  1. Corruption of 'Martinique," the best variety of banana in Jamaica
  2. Is (or was) made
  3. In a toast = toasted
  4. It is buccra's fancy, i.e., the white man likes it
  5. In a different way; not so much at a time as we we eat
  6. This lengthening of a monosyllable into a dissyllable is common
  7. Wicked
  8. It goes up to heaven with the noise, etc. This is an excellent simile as those acquainted with tropical crickets will know
  9. Worms. i.e., grubs
  10. In spite of the primitve methods of cultivation the bananas are just as plump
  11. The nine-hand and only (pure ) nine-hand bunches -- none smaller, that is-grown by—this old method have a fine reputation
  12. In trash. Any refuse is called 'trash.' Here dried banana leaves are meant
  13. Reach
  14. The selling of the bananas is over
  15. Bag secured by a thread (string) round the mouth
  16. In every way. He can eat it or sell it
  17. Carries the sway, i.e., is Jamaica's mainstay


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