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

The Heart of a Constab

'Tis hatred without an' 'tis hatred within,
   An' I am so weary an' sad;
For all t'rough de tempest o' terrible strife
   Dere's not'in' to make poor me glad.
Oh! where are de faces I loved in de past,
   De Men's dat I used to hold dear?
Oh say, have dey all turned away from me now
   Becausen de red seam I wear?
I foolishly wandered away from dem all
   To dis life of anguish an' woe,
Where I mus' be hard on me own kith an' kin,
   And even to frien' mus' prove foe.
Oh ! what have I gained from my too too rash act
   O' joinin' a hard Constab Force,
Save quenchin' me thirst from a vinegar cup,
   De vinegar cup o' remorse?
I fought of a livin' o' pure honest toil,
   To keep up dis slow-ebbin' breath;
But no, de life surely is bendin' me do'n,
   Is bendin' me do'n to de death.
'Tis grievous to think dat, while toilin' on here,
   My people won't love me again,
My people, my people, me owna black skin,
   De wretched fought gives me such pain.
But I'll leave it, my people, an' come back to you,
   I'll flee from de grief an' turmoil;
I'll leave it, though flow'rs here should line my path yet,
   An' come back to you an' de soil.
For 'tis hatred without an' 'tis hatred within,
   An' how can I live 'douten heart?
Then oh for de country, de love o' me soul,
   From which I shall nevermore part! 

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