Songs of Jamaica (1912)

When You Want a Bellyful

WHEN you want a bellyful,
Tearin’ piece o’ one,[1]
Mek up fire, wash you’ pot,
Full i’ wid cockstone.[2]

Nuttin’ good as cockstone soup
For a bellyful;
Only, when you use i’ hot,
You can sweat no bull.[3]

An’ to mek you know de trut’,
Dere’s anedder flaw;
Ef you use too much o’ i’,
It wi’ paunch you’ maw.[4]

Growin’ wid de fat blue corn,
Pretty cockstone peas —
Lilly blossom, vi’let-like,[5]
Drawin’ wuker bees–

We look on dem growin’ dere,
Pokin’ up dem head,
Lilly, lilly, t’rough de corn,
Till de pod dem shed.[6]

An’ we watch de all-green pods
Stripin’ bit by bit;
Green leaves gettin’ yellow coat,
Showin dey were fit.[7]

So we went an’ pull dem up,[8]
Reaped a goodly lot,
Shell some o’ de pinkish grain,
Put dem in a pot.[9]

But I tell you, Sir, again,
Cockstone soup no good;[10]
From experience I fink
‘Tis de wus’ o’ food.[11]

When de reapin’-time come roun ‘,
I dry fe me part;[12]
Sellin i’, when it get scarce,
For a bob a quart.[13]

When you need a bellyful,
Grip!n’ piece o’ one,
Shub up fire under pot,
Put in dry cockstone.

  1. This whole line is a single intensifying adjective; and the two lines together are equivalent to "When you want a tremendous bellyful."
  2. Red peas, French beans
  3. It makes you sweat like a ('no'—pronounced very short in this sense) bull
  4. Make your belly swell
  5. Violet coloured
  6. Until the pods are formed
  7. Showing that the peas were fit to pick
  8. These red peas are pulled up by the roots
  9. In the pot
  10. Is not good
  11. The worst of foods
  12. I dry my share
  13. The usual price is 'bit,' i.e., 4 1/2d


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