Songs of Jamaica (1912)

Little Jim

Me lard! me caan’ bear it no mo’!
‘Twill kill me dead, dis bad sore toe;
All day all night, ’tis de same,
Mek me a bawl out Massa name.[1]

O Lard o’ me, a ‘fraid[2] to tu’n,
De way de dreadful bluestone bu’n![3]
A[4] feel it movin’ t’rough me j’ints,
Like million load o’ needle-p’ints.

An’ oh! me schoolmates dem[5] did laugh
De day I nearly knock’[6] it off;
Me laugh meself fe sake o’ shame,[7]
An’ didn’ know I’d go so lame.

I didna’ then t’ink what I’d got—[8]
Good Lard, mumma de bluestone hot![9]
I tell you, a wi’ lose me head;[10]
You satisfy to kill me dead?[11]

An’ oh! it is a double pain,
For I caan’ go to school again,
To gellop over fyahn[12] an ditch,
An’ crew de j’int o’ teacher switch.[13]

No mo’ roas’ corn[14] fe little Jim,
Dem say dat it no good[15] fe him:
Me hide me face, for me caan’ bear
To see dem passin’ wid de pear.[16]

But me a don’t gwin’[17] to fret,
De half a toe wi’ better get:
I’ll go to school once more, go bad;[18]
Ay it ease me a bit,[19] t’ank God!

  1. Making me bawl (pronounce bahl) out Massa's (God's) name
  2. I am afraid
  3. So dreadfully does the bluestone (sulphate of copper) burn
  4. I
  5. Redundant word. It is tacked closely to the preceding word
  6. Knocked
  7. I laughted myself, out of bravado
  8. I did not then picture to myself the extent of the injury
  9. Is painful
  10. I shall go out of my mind, I tell you
  11. Can it be that you don't care whether you kill me or not?
  12. To gallop over fern
  13. To screw the joint of teacher's switch, is to cut it so that it breaks when he uses it
  14. Baked cob of green maize
  15. They say it is not good
  16. Alligator pear (Persea gratissima), not allowed to those suffering from wounds
  17. The half toe will get well some day
  18. Play the mischief; play tricks. The a sounds as in French la.
  19. It is a bit easier


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