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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   

                                     

2                    

                                                                                         

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.  

                                                                

3           

                                                                                                  

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              

    

4                                                                                                     

        

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.      

                                          

5                                                               

                                            

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              

                                      

6                                                         

                                                    

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             

                                               

7                                                           

                                                 

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

2

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.

3

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

4

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.

5

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

6

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

7

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.

 

 
  
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