Constab Ballads (1912)

Sukee River (1912 version)

I SHALL love you ever,
Dearest Sukee River:
Dash against my broken heart,
Nevermore from you I’ll part,
But will stay forever,
Crystal Sukee River.[1]

Cool my fevered brow:
Ah ! ’tis better now,
As I serpent-like lance t’rough
Your broad pool o’ deepest blue!
Dis once burnin’ brow
Is more better now.

All about me dashin’,
H’is’in’ up an’ splashin’,
Bubbles like de turtle-berries,
Jostlin’ wid de yerry-yerries,
All about me dashin’
H’is’in’ up an’ splashin’.

Oh! dis blissful swim,
Like a fairy dream!
Jumpin’ off de time-worn plank,
Pupperlicks[2] from bank to bank,
Dis delightful swim
Is a fairy dream.

Kiss my naked breast
In its black skin drest:
Let your dainty silver bubbles
Ease it of its lifelong troubles,
Dis my naked breast
In its black skin drest.

Floatin’, floatin’ down
On my back alone,
Kiss me on my upturned face,
Clasp me in your fond embrace,
As I’m floatin’ down
Happy, yet alone.

Wavelets laughin’ hound me,
Ripples glad surround me:
Catchin’ at dem light an’ gay,
See dem scamper all away,
As dey playful hound me,
Or in love surround me.

T’rough de twistin’ dance
Onward do I lance:
Onward under yonder cave
Comes wid me a pantin’ wave,
Speedin’ from de dance
Wid me as I lance.

‘Neat’ dis shadin’ hedge
Growin’ by your bridge,
I am thinkin’ o’ you’ love,
Love dat not’in’ can remove,
‘Neat’ dis shadin’ hedge
Growin’ by your bridge.

Love more pure, I ken,
Dan de love o’ men,
Knowin’ not de fickle mind
Nor de hatred o’ my kind;
Purer far, I ken,
Dan de love o’ men.

E’en when welcome deaf
Claims dis painful breat’,
Of you I will ever think
Who first gave me crystal drink;
E’en when welcome deaf
Claims dis painful breaf.

For a little while
I must leave your smile:
Raindrops fallin’ from de sky
Force me now to say good-bye;
Jes’ lee[3] bit o’ while
I must leave your smile.

Foamin’ Sukee Eiver,
Dearer now dan ever,
I’ll ne’er roam from you again
To a life o’ so-so pain,
Crystal flowin’ river,
Dearer now dan ever.

  1. A river in Clarendon. Pronounce Sooky, with 'oo' as in look
  2. Pupperlicks: head over heels; turning somersaults
  3. Lee: little


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