Songs of Jamaica (1912)

Mother Dear

“HUSBAN”, I am goin’ —
Though de brooklet is a-flowin’,
An’ de coolin’ breeze is blowin’
Softly by;
Hark, how strange de cow is mooin’,
An’ our Jennie’s pigeons cooin’,
While I feel de water[1] growin’
Climbing high.”

“Akee[2] trees are laden,
But de yellow leaves are fadin’
Like a young an’ bloomin’ maiden
Fallen low;
In de pond de ducks are wadin’
While my body longs for Eden,[3]
An’ my weary breat is gledin’
‘Way from you.

“See dem John-crows[4] flyin’!
‘Tis a sign dat I am dyin’;
Oh, I’m wishful to be lyin’
All alone:
Fait’ful husban’, don’t go cryin’,
Life is one long self-denyin’
All-surrenderin’ an’ sighin’
Livin’ moan.”

“Wife, de parson’s prayin’,
Won’t you listen what he’s sayin’,
Spend de endin’ of your day in
Christ our Lord?”
But de sound of horses neighin’,
Baain’ goats an’ donkeys brayin’,
Twitt’rin’ birds an’ children playin’
Was all she heard.

Things she had been rearin’,
Only those could claim her hearin’,
When de end we had been fearin’
Now had come:
Now her last pain she is bearin’,
Now de final scene is nearin’,
An’ her vacant eyes are starin’
On her home.[5]

Oh! it was heart-rendin’
As we watched de loved life endin’,
Dat sweet sainted spirit bendin’
To de death:
Gone all further hope of mendin’,
With de angel Death attendin’,
An’ his slayin’ spirit blendin’
With her breath.

  1. The water of dropsy rising from the legs towards the heart
  2. Cupania sapida, bearing beautiful red fruits
  3. To English readers this and the next (gledin' =gliding) would hardly seem to be rhymes, Nevertheless they are so
  4. Turkey-buzzards
  5. The spot in the garden she had chosen for her burial-place


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