Full Transcript for the a slave's poem




Transcript by Jennifer Downey, April 2011 Translation by Mark Purington, April 2011

If I was wite as some fokes are,                                                     

I’de hab a chance to live:                                                                  

But I is black, all over black                                                             

So wite fokes hab a chance to swear   




They take my little niggies way                                                    

And bind dem also tight                                                                   

When want to get dem back again                                                  

I is de Debble of de day.  




De sherif comes mid men and clubs                                         

To take me like a Tief                                                                        

Dey curse dey swear, dey kncks me down                             

Like [unclear: he is] ketch bear wid dogs and cubs              




Right in de parsons house dey go                                                  

Right were de ladies are                                                                   

Dey skear dem all and make dem mad                                     

Before dem all day knock’d me so.      




Dey takes me off before de judge                                                  

De people all around                                                                          

Dey swear, dey lie and I must hush                                              

I dare not move, nor dare budge              




Den I is wipt right on my back                                                      

And no one pities me                                                                         

Wat I have done no one can tell                                                     

Now I is wipt case I is black             




Tenth legion is a braggy place                                            

Were none’s to be a king                                                                  

Were ‘spect is paid to ladies fair                                                    

As you can see in old nggie’s case.                                                

If I was white as some folks are

I’d have a chance to live:

But I is black, all over black

So white folks have a chance to swear


They take my little niggies way

And bind them all so tight

When want to get them back again

I is the Devil of the day.


The sheriff comes with men and clubs

To take me like a thief

They curse, they swear, they knocks me down

Like he is catch bear with dogs and cubs


Right in the parson’s house they go

Right where the ladies are

They scare them all and make them mad

Before they all day knock me so.


They takes me off before the judge

The people all around

They swear, they lie and I must hush

I dare not move, nor dare budge


Then I is whipped right on my back

And no one pities me

What I have done no one can tell

Now I is whipped ‘cause I is black


Tenth Legion is a braggy place

Where none’s to be a king

Where respect is paid to ladies fair

As you can see in old niggie’s case.