Constab Ballads (1912)

Me Whoppin’ Big-Tree Boy

I’M aweary weary standin’, wid me heart chock-full o’ grief,
An’ a great lump in me bosom, an’ A canna’ get relief:
Walkin’ up an’ do’n de road, I see a whoppin’ Syrian-boy,[1]
An’ I grudge him, yes I grudge him for his heart so full o’ joy.

‘Twas a hot, hot day o’ brain-work, an’ me heart was sick an’ sad,
As I staggered ‘long de car-line, but de boy’s cheek made me glad:
Wid his han’s dem set akimbo in a mannish sort o’ way,
Said he “Do wha’ it you like, but A wi’ wuk no mo’ te-day.”

An’ de Syrian grew astonished as he looked upon his load,
Which de whoppin’ big-tree[2] boy had tumbled in de middle road:
He was boun’ fe Lawrence Tavern, business called him dere to-night,
An’ he begged his ole-time carrier jes’ to help him out his plight.

“Nummo wuk at all fe me is my determination still;
Me no care damn wha’ you say, an’ you can jes’ do wha’ you will:
Me deh go right back to to’n, yah, underneat’ me old big-tree;
All dem boys wid eboe-light dem, dem is waitin’ deh fe me.

“Now I’m free fe talk abouten all de people whe’ you rob,
How you sell wha’ no wut gill self to black naygur for a bob;
But me eboe-light wi’ sure talk, of dat you can have no doubt,
Fe revenge de quantity o’ poor poor people you play out.

“Jes’ becausen say dem poo’ so, an’ t’rough poverty dem mus’
Tek a couple o’ t’ings from you dat you’re trick enough fe trus’,
You robbin’ dem so badly;[3] but A sorry fe you dough,
How we boys beneat’ de big-tree really mean fe mek you know.”

Then I roared, I roared with laughter, although posted on my beat,
Till I half forgot de sore pain in me bosom an’ my feet:
Ah! I wish I knew a little, jes’ a little of de joy
Dat Nature has bestowed on you, my whoppin’ big-tree boy.

  1. Syrian-boy: negro working for a Syrian pedlar
  2. Big-tree: A certain big tree in Kingston is the resort of idlers and vicious characters
  3. This should be read almost as if it were a question


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