Songs of Jamaica (1912)


If you lub me, Joanie, only tell me, dear,
Do not be so cold
When my lub is bold;
Do not mek dis burning heart o’ mine get drear,
Tek it for your own,
For ’tis yours alone.

I hav ever lub’d you from I saw[1] your face
On dat Monday morn
‘Mongst de peas an’ corn:
Lightly did you trip along wid yout’ful grace,
Wid de kerchief red
Wound about your head.

Durin’ de revival[2] we b’en use’ fe pray,
Spirit we b’en hab,
How we use’ fe sob!
Yet how soon did all of it from we get ‘way![3]
Lub kiver de whole,
We feget we “soul.”

Though I could’n’ see you when you younger b’en,
It was better so,
For we older grow,
An’ I can protect you now from udder men,
If you’ll only be
Fe me one,[4] Joanie.

How I saw you proudly draw up to your height–
As we strolled along
Gay in laugh an’ song,
Passin’ by de peenies[5] sheddin’ greenish light’–
Cos my lips did miss,[6]
Stealin’ one lee[7] kiss!

‘Member you de days down by de river-side,
I prevented you
Your washin’ to do,
Teasin’ you at times till you got vex’ an’ cried,
An’ I try de while
To coax you fe smile?

Joanie, when you were me own a[8] true sweetheart,
I lived in de air
‘Douten[9] t’ought of care,
Thinkin’, o me Joan, dat’ nuttin’ could we[10] part,
Naught to mek me fear
Fe me own a dear.

When in church on Sunday days we use’ fe sit,
You dressed in light pink,
How we used fe wink!
Wha’ de parson say we cared for not a bit,
Nuttin’ could remove
Our sweet t’oughts from love.

I am thinkin’, Joanie, when de nights were lone,
An’ you were afraid
Of each darkened shade,
An’ I use’ fe guide you over river-stone,[11]
How you trusted me
Fe care[12] you, Joanie.

‘Member you de time when many days passed by,
An’ I didn’ come
To your hill-side home,
How you wrote those sad, sad letters to know why,
Till I comfort gave
To my Joanie brave?

In those happy days, me Joan, you loved me then,
An’ I t’ought dat you
Would be ever true;
Never dreamed you would forsake me for strange men,
Who caan’ lub you so
Much as thrown-up Joe.

Joanie, fickle Joanie, give up Squire’s son;
You wi’ soon hate him
An’ his silly whim,
An’ your heart wi’ yearn fe me when I am gone;
So, ‘fo’ ’tis too late,
Come back to your mate.

Joanie, when you’re tired of dat worthless man,
You can come back still
Of your own free will:
Nummo girl dis true,[13] true heart will understan’;
I wi’ live so-so,[14]
Broken-hearted Joe.

An’, Joan, in de days fe come I know you’ll grieve
For de foolishniss
Dat you now call bliss:
Dere’s no wrong you done me I would not forgive;
But you choice[15] your way,
So, me Joan, good-day!

  1. From the moment that I saw
  2. At revival meetings those who 'have the Spirit' give grunting sobs
  3. Go away pass away
  4. Mine alone
  5. Fireflies
  6. Make a mistake
  7. Little
  8. There is a delicious caressing sound about this intrusive 'a'
  9. Without
  10. Us
  11. The stepping stones in the river
  12. Look after
  13. No other girl can understand
  14. Alone
  15. Choose, have chosen


Icon for the Public Domain license

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