Claude McKay's Early Poetry (1911-1922): A Digital Collection


OF all de people I don't like,
   A chief one is de bummer;
He bums around from morn to night
   Trough winter an' t'rough summer.
Ef we should go aroun' John's shop,
   An' he ketch scent o' rum's up,
You'll soon see'm pokin' up him nose
   Wid him bare-face an' comes-up.
Ef we are smokin' cigarette,
   He wants a part of it too;
An' ebery bluff you gi'e to him,
   He's answer got to fit you.
Anedder thing I really hate
   Is, when de touris' come in,
To see some people flockin' dem,
   An' ebery one a-bummin'.
I think it is an ugly sight
   To see a bummin' bobby;
Yet plenty o' dem tek it for
   A precious piece of hobby.   
I proud 'nuff o' me uniform
   Not ever to be rummy;
Much mo' fe lower do'n mese'f
   An' mek my min' feel bummy.
If people like to see somet'ing,
   It is a bobby quaffin'
A glass or two o' common rum,
  Then drunk, dey start a-laughin'.
I tell you, all my comrades dear,
   Dough your pay might be little,
Don't cringe an' fawn 'fore richer men,
   Deir pelf's not wort' a tittle.
My pay is small, an' yet I live
   An' feel proud as a lord too;
Ef you'll be men you soon will find
   How much it can reward you.
De honest toil is pure as gold,
   An' he who wuks a penny
Can mek his life as much wort' while
   As he who earns a guinea.
Our trouble is dat those above
   Do oftentimes oppress;
But we'll laugh at or pity dem,
   Or hate dem mo' or less.
So we mus' mek de best o' t'ings,
   An' never be too rummish;
'Twill help us many ways, an' 'top
   Us all from bein' bummish. 

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