Jamaica Farewell

 

Brown Girl
Let me sing
Tra-la-la-la-la

Of cricket
Of our life and thing
Tra-la-la-la-la
Show me a motion
Tra-la-la-la-la
Show me emotion
Tra-la-la-la-la.  

Jamaica -
Land of water and of wood
Reggae raw and accent rude
No soothing Cozier's vocal charm.
Hostility, indiscipline
B
ad boys who give alarm
Sent home in admonition -
From many people is one nation.  

Memento
F
rom a time of mento
Louise Bennett, Bim & Bam
Salt fish, ackee, mango, yam
Obeah, Pocomania
Norman Manley
Marcus Garvey
Sir Alexander Bustamante. 

Brown girl, how you cried
And knew not why you cried
When you learned
Collie Smith had died.  

Back then in your island home
Your life in exile yet to come
Took the funeral as a reference
Of your own lost innocence.  

Jamaicans - then and now one people
One nation in your grief
When Kingston buried Collie Smith.  

Always  heroes dying young
Their talent green
Life's-work hardly yet begun -
Donald Sangster and Bob Marley -
Promise passed
Before it had the time to grow.
Brown girl, do you know
The man for whom you mourn?  

For - truth to tell
He was one of us as well:
Banners flew here at half-mast
On learning that his life was past.
We'd charmed to Alfred Valentine
With Ramadhin -
"Those two pals of mine", and
Headley hitting hundreds
At a pace.
Worrell's style and batting grace -
Adopted son
Of your island in the sun.  

Brown girl, you are not
The child that you then were
When you were there at home.  

"Whenever there's moonlight
You'll think of then
You'll remember
The first night
He held you tight
Remember the warm kiss
And his loving arms, dear
Whenever there's moonlight
You'll think of then". 

Bananas green and avocado
Vere John on the radio
Bread-fruit and the doctor-birds
The tunes, the moon
The long unending afternoon
Hearing Arlott's golden words. 

Runs and jubilation
Came your way at Edgbaston
Comfort in tribulation
Brought solace, too, at Nottingham. 

"Your eyes are dreaming
They're always dreaming  of ....."
What could you do
At your school-girl crush's wedding
As you heard the choir singing:
"Too late he's gone
Too late he's gone".  

It changed for all of you
At that milestone funeral
In your thousand
Sharing unrestrained emotion
Youth and childhood at an end
Before you came to 'Eng-l-and.  

Sad to say, you  were on your way
Wouldn't be back home for many a day  

May the words of my mouth
And meditation of our hearts
Be acceptable in Thy sight
Every night.  

Brown girl
We shall sing
Of new-time heroes too
Walsh and Michael Holding
Adams, Lawrence Rowe
Hendriks and Dujon  

With Lollipop, and Shantytown
In winter snow
And summer gloom

No job
  No Coloureds here
   No room. 

One housing mass
From Lewisham
To Ladbroke Grove
Death by leaking Valor-stove
Violent scenes at Notting Hill
New Cross Fire
And Enoch Powell
A social hell -
Recent thoughts on which you dwell.  

Go back into the other world
When you were still a brown-skin girl
Friendly days of festival
Before Collie Smith's own funeral.  

"No woman, no cry"
("No woman, no cry")
I know why you, woman, cry
You weep for years which pass away
Leaving you no chance to say
That what it is
For which you pine
Is yourself in autumn-time  .... 

September 1959


   
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