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

To E.M.E.

You see me smile: but what is it?
A sweetened pain -- a laughing fit -- 
   A little honeyed dart,
   That, passing, stabs my heart,
Yet mek me glad a bit.

You see me dance: 'twas but my feet,
You should have heard my heart a beat!
   For non o' it was real:
   It be'n a priceless sale
Of bitter for a sweet.

Dis laughin' face! -- 'tis full o' joy
Because it is a baby's toy;
   But when de child is gone
   An' the darkness comes on,
'Twill be anudder boy.

You hear me sing: what is de tune?
De song of one that's dyin' soon,
   A whirlin', tossin' life
   Flung on de wul' of strife;
I call it 'debil's boon.' 

De many pleasures?
Wha's de gain?
I'll tell you of a grindin' pain
   Dat companies de birt',
   An' runs wid vengeance  mirt'
De life, till it is slain.

Why do I sleep?
My eyes know why,
Same how a life knows why it die: 
   Dey sleep on in distress,
   Knowin' not why dey res',
But feelin' why dey cry.

I'm hungry now, so eat once mo',
E'en though I'll soon be like befo'; 
   For, as in udder t'ings,
   De seemin' pleasure clings,
De cravin' has no cure.

It always seem so strange to me,
Dat you can satisfy to be
   A life whose daily food
   Is pain: de only good,
Deat' dat will set it free. 

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