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

Whe' Fe Do?

[McKay's Footnote]

LIFE will continue so for aye,
Some people sad, some people gay,
Some mockin' life while udders pray;
But we mus' fashion-out we way
An' sabe a mite fe rainy day--
   All we can do. 

We needn' fold we han' an' cry,
Nor vex we heart wid groan and sigh;
De best we can do is fe try
To fight de despair drawin' nigh:
Den we might conquer by an' by--
   Dat we might do. 

We hab to batter in de sun,
An' dat isn't a little fun,
For Lard! 'tis hellish how it bu'n:
Still dere's de big wul' to live do'n--
   So whe' fe do ? 

We nigger hab a tas' fe do,
To conquer prejudice dat due
To obeah, an' t'ings not a few
Dat keep we progress back fe true,--
   But whe' fe do? 

We've got to wuk wid might an' main,
To use we han' an' use we brain,
To toil an' worry, 'cheme an' 'train
Fe t'ings that bring" more loss dan gain;
To stan' de sun an bear de rain,
An' suck we bellyful o' pain
Widouten cry nor yet complain--
   For dat caan' do. 

And though de wul' is full o' wrong,
Dat caan' prevent we sing we song
All de day as we wuk along--
   Whe' else fe do? 

We happy in de hospital;
We happy when de rain deh fall;
We happy though de baby bawl
Fe food dat we no hab at all;
We happy when Deat' angel call
Fe full we cup of joy wid gall:
Our fait' in this life is not small--
   De best to do. 

An' da's de way we ought to live,
For pain an' such we shouldn' grieve,
But tek de best dat Nature give--
   Da's whe' fe do. 

God mek de wul' fe black an' white;
We'll wuk on in de glad sunlight,
Keep toilin' on wid all our might,
An' sleep in peace when it is night:
We must strive on to gain de height,
Aldough it may not be in sight;
An' yet perhaps de blessed right
Will never conquer in de fight--
   Still, whe' fe do? 

We'll try an' live as any man,
An' fight de wul' de best we can,
E'en though it hard fe understan'--
   Whe' we mus' do. 

For da's de way o' dis ya wul';
It's snap an' bite, an' haul an' pull,
An' we all get we bellyful--
   But whe' fe do? 


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