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


I TOOK my marnin' bat' alone,
An' wept for Bennie dat was gone ;
An' after, sittin', weepin' long,
Some one came askin' wha' be'n wrong:
But only chokin' sobs he heard,
My mout' could never speak a word.
An' so for long days all was grief,
An' never could I get relief;
My heart be'n full of emptiness,
With naught to love an' naught to bless,
I 'member de familiar scene:
I sat out on de Depôt green,
Restin' agains' de big great gun:
De long rays o' de settin' sun
Were thrown upon the sombre wall;
I heard de rousin' bugle-call
In chorus  soundin' o' retreat ; 
A ray o' light shone on my seat,
A soft dull shade of changin' gold,
So pleasant, lovely to behold :
A moment, an' I was alone,
De wanin' evenin' sun was gone.
I sat do'n still; de evenin' light
Passed on, an' it fell night, dark night.
'Twas autumn: feelin' rather chill,
I rose, led by my aimless will,
An' went up to the second floor,
Sat on a bench agains' de door.
A comrade came an' sat by me,
Restin' a hand upon my knee;
De lantern old was burnin' dim,
But bright 'nough for me to see him:
One searchin' look into his face,
I gave him in my heart a place.
I never knew a nicer mind,
He was so pleasant an' so kind;
An' oh ! the sweetness of his voice
That made my lonely heart rejoice.
It all comes back so vividly,
The comfort that he brought to me;
The ray of hope, the pure pure joy
He gave a poor forsaken boy;
In walk or talk his tender care,
His deep concern for my welfare.
His comin' filled the larger part
Of de great void made in my heart
When on dat cruel awful day
My faithful Bennie went away.
'Tis not de way o' dis ya wul'
Dat any miserable soul
Should know a little lastin' peace,
Should taste endurin' happiness.
De harmless tabby o' de house
Plays kindly wid de frightened mouse,
Till, when it nearly loses dread,
Good Lard! de little thing is dead.
So wid de man, toy of a Will
E'er playin' with him to its fill,
To-day alive, to-morrow slain,
Thus all our pleasure ends in pain.
Where'er I roam, whate'er the clime,
I'll never know a happier time ;
I seemed as happy as could be,
When everything was torn from me.
De fateful day I 'member still,
De final breakin' o' my will,
Again de sayin' o' good-bye,
My poor heart's silent wailin' cry;
My life, my soul, my all be'n gone,
And ever since I am alone. 

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