Constab Ballads (1912)

Last Words of the Dying Recruit

WHERE’S you’ tender han’, mumma,
Dat would fingle up me jaw
When de fever burned so deep,
An’ A couldn’ get no sleep?

Where’s de voice me love’ to hear
Whisp’rin’ sweetest words o’ cheer?—
Voice dat taught me A B C
As me leaned ‘pon mumma’s knee.

Look de ‘panish-needle grass
Growin’ by de gully pass!
Is dat fe me ducky hen
Cacklin’ roun’-a rabbit pen?

Hea’ de John-t’whits in-a glee
Singin’ in de mammee tree!
Listen, comin’ up de dale
Chirpin’s o’ de nightingale!

All de chune dem die away:—
Do you see de shinin’ ray
On da’ tiny buttercup ?
‘Tis de sun a-comin’ up.

Now’s full time fe me to wake,
‘Causen we ha’ bread fe bake;
Git up, Sam, you lazy wretch,
For de beas’ dem fe go ketch:

Ef[1] you ‘low de sun fe grow,
Grass-lice wi’ sure mek you know;
S’arch up to de ole-groun’ side,
For de jack wi’ ‘tan’ deh hide.

Mumma, me wan’ go a school,
Te-day we gwin’ play torn-fool :
Quick! Gi’e me my book an’ slate,
For I doana want fe late.

Sister, wha’ de doctor t’ink?
Say mumma a lower sink?
Lard! ef she gwin’ go lef we,
Wha’ de use o’ life fe me?

Sister, sister, a no true,
Mumma caan’ dis dead ‘way so;
Sister, sister, leave me ‘lone,
Me won’ believe dat she gone.

Ah! no fe her own ban’ now
Kestin’ on me fevered brow?
Mumma, lay me ‘pon you’ breas’,
Mek me get a drop o’ res’.

Mumma! a whe’ mumma deh?
Mumma! mumma gone away?
Gone, oh gone is eberyt’ing,
But de funny fancies cling.

Aye, t’enk God, me mumma come!
Ma, no lef me, tek me home;
Tek me from de awful strife
Of dis miserable life.

  1. If you allow the sun to get hot, grass-lice (small ticks) will surely "make you know" (punish you),


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