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

Rise and Fall

[Thoughts of Burns -- with apologies to his immortal spirit for making him speak in Jamaican dialect.]

DEY read 'em again an' again,
   An' laugh an' cry at 'em in turn ;
I felt I was gettin' quite vain,
   But dere was a lesson fe learn.

My poverty quickly took wing,
   Of life no experience had I;
I couldn' then want anyt'ing
   Dat kindness or money could buy.

Dey tek me away from me lan',
   De gay o' de wul' to behold,
An' roam me t'rough palaces gran',
   An' show'red on me honour untold.

I went to de ballroom at night,
   An' danced wid de belles of de hour;
Half dazed by de glitterin' light,
   I lounged in de palm-covered bower. 

I flirted wid beautiful girls,
   An' drank 0' de wine flowin' red;
I felt my brain movin' in whirls,
   An' knew I was losin' my head.

But soon I was tired of it all,
   My spirit was weary to roam;  
De life grew as bitter as gall,
   I hungered again for my home.

Te-day I am back in me lan',
   Forgotten by all de gay throng,
A poorer but far wiser man,
   An' knowin' de right from de wrong. 

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