African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Claude McKay, "Hard Times" (1912)

DE mo' me wuk, de mo' time hard,
   I don't know what fe do;
I ben' me knee an' pray to Gahd,
   Yet t'ings same as befo'.

De taxes knockin' at me door,
   I hear de bailiff's v'ice;
Me wife is sick, can't get no cure,
   But gnawin' me like mice.

De picknies hab to go to school
   Widout a bite fe taste;
And I am working like a mule,
While buccra, sittin' in de cool,
   Hab 'nuff nenyam fe waste. 

De clodes is' tearin' off dem back
   When money seems noa mek ;
A man can't eben ketch a mac,
   Care how him 'train him neck.'

De peas won't pop, de corn can't grow,
   Poor people face look sad;
Dat Gahd would cuss de lan' I'd know,
   For black naygur too bad.

I won't gib up, I won't say die,
   For alI de time is hard;
Aldough de wul' soon en', I'll try
My wutless best as ti me goes by,
   An' trust on in me Gahd.

Published in Songs of Jamaica, 1912

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