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

Christmas In De Air

Dere is Christmas in de air: --
But de house is cold an' bare,
An' me wife half paralize'
Is a-dyin' wid bad eyes;
Food too is so extra dear,
An' dere's Christmas in de air.

Oh! de time is 'tiff wid me!
Coffee parch up 'pon de tree,
All de yam-plants tek an' die
'Counten o' de awful dry:
Ah, I wonder how we'll fare,
Although Christmas in de air.

We no e'en hab mancha leaf
T'rough de miserable tie'f,
Not a money fe buy clo'es
Fo Joanna or fe Rose;
Dey're so awful short o'gear,
An' dere's Christmas in de air.

Dere's me poo' wife sick in bed
An' de children to be fed,
While de baby 'pon me knee
Is as hungry as can be
Ah tough life, so cold an' drear!
Yet dere a Christmas in de air.

Wuk is shet do'n 'pon de road,
An' plantation pay no good,
Whole day ninepence for a man!
Wha' dah come to dis ya lan'? 
Lard, I trimble when I hear
Dad dere's Christmas in de air.

Gov'mint seem no hea' de cry 
Dat de price o food is high,
Not a single wud is said
'Bouten taxes to be paid;
Same old taxes ebery year,
Though dere's hunger in de air.

While we batter t'rough de tret,
'Tis a reg'lar pay dem get;
While we're sufferin' in pain
Dem can talk 'bout surplus-gain;
Oh me God! de sad do'n-care,
An' dere's Hard Times in de air.

But we'll batter on tell deat',
Holdin' life in desp'rate fait',
For we're foolish 'nough to know
Life is but a poppy show;
We feel glad de end is near,
Though dere's Christmas in de air.

O sweet life so sad, so gay,
Oh why did you come my way,
All your gaiety to vaunt
An' yet torture me wid want?
I'm a-dyin' o' despair
While dere's Christmas in de air. 


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