alee_grrl: Image of Louise Bennett, Jamaican poet and folk singer (miss lou)
[personal profile] alee_grrl
Originally posted this morning on [community profile] poetry, and the lovely [personal profile] azuire asked me to cross post here.

Bans a Killin by Louise Bennett


So yuh a de man me hear bout!
Ah yuh dem seh dah teck
Whole heap a English oat seh dat
yuh gwine kill dialec!
Meck me get it straight, mas Charlie,
For me no quite understand –
Yuh gwine kill all English dialec
Or jus Jamaica one?
Ef yuh dah equal up wid English
Language, den wha meck
Yuh gwine go feel inferior when
It come to dialec?
Ef yuh cyaan sing 'Linstead Market'
An 'Water come a me yeye’
Yuh wi haffi tap sing 'Auld lang syne’
An ‘Comin through de rye'.
Dah language weh yuh proud a,
Weh yuh honour an respec –
Po Mas Charlie, yuh no know se
Dat it spring from dialec!
Dat dem start fi try tun language
From de fourteen century -
Five hundred years gawn an dem got
More dialec dan we!
Yuh wi haffi kill de Lancashire,
De Yorkshire, de Cockney,
De broad Scotch and de Irish brogue
Before yuh start kill me!
Yuh wi haffi get de Oxford Book
A English Verse, an tear
Out Chaucer, Burns, Lady Grizelle
An plenty a Shakespeare!
When yuh done kill 'wit' an 'humour',
When yuh kill 'variety',
Yuh wi haffi fine a way fi kill
Originality!
An mine how yuh dah read dem English
Book deh pon yuh shelf,
For ef yuh drop a 'h' yuh mighta
Haffi kill yuhself!

So you’re the man I hear about!
You’re the one that’s made
A whole lot of English oaths that say
You’re gonna kill dialect!
Let me get it straight, Mr. Charlie,
For I don’t quite understand –
Are you gonna kill all English dialects
Or just the Jamaican one?
If you’ve examined the English Language,
Then what makes you feel inferior when
it comes to dialects?
If you can’t sing ‘Linstead Market’
And ‘Water come a me yeye’
Then we have to stop singing ‘Auld lang syne’
And ‘Comin through de rye’.
The language you are so proud of,
Which you honor and respect—
Poor Mr. Charlie, don’t you see that
It springs from dialects!
They've tried to turn it into a language
From the fourteenth century –
Five hundred years have passed and now
They’ve got more dialects than we do!
You would have to kill the Lancashire,
The Yorkshire, the Cockney,
The broad Scotch and the Irish brogue
Before you start to kill me!
You would have to get the Oxford Book
Of English Verse and tear
Out Chaucer, Burns, Lady Grizelle
And lots of Shakespeare!
When you’ve finished killing ‘wit’ and ‘humor’,
When you’ve killed ‘variety’,
You will have to find a way to kill
Originality!
And how are you gonna read those English
Books there upon your shelf,
‘Cause if you drop a ‘h’ you might
Have to kill yourself!

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July 2014

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