Monday, March 02, 2009

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Inglan is a Bitch.


My translation of the West Indian patois Linton Kwesi Johnson uses to convey the voice of the man in the poem, a West Indian man who came to work in England during the 1950s. The speaker of this poem is like an Everyman and Everywoman of the first generation immigrant experience, trying so hard but seemingly getting nowhere. As a child in Massachusetts I heard older people talk like this among themselves. I would hide and listen.

Inglan is a Bitch.

When me just come to London town.
Me used to work pon the underground.
But working pon the underground.
You don't get to know your way around.
England is a bitch.
There's no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
There's no running way from it.

Me get a little job in a big hotel.
And after awhile, me was doing quite well.
Them start me off as a dishwasher.
But when me take a stack, me no turn clock watcher.

England is a bitch.
There's no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
Nobody try to hide from it.

When they give you your little wage packet.
First them rob with you them big tax racket.
You have to struggle to make ends meet.
And when you go to bed, you just can't sleep.

England is a bitch.
There's no escaping it.
England is a bitch, for true.
And no lie me tell, it's true.

Me used to work big ditch when it cold as a bitch.
Me was strong as a mule, but boy, me was a fool.
Then after a while me just stop the overtime.
Then after awhile, me just put down me tool.

England is a bitch.
There's no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
You have to know how to survive in it.

Well me do day work and me do night work.
Me do clean work and me do dirty work.
Them say a black man is very lazy.
But if you see how me work you would have said me crazy.

England is a bitch
There's no escaping it
England is a bitch
You better face up to it.

Them have a little factory up in Barclay
In this factory all them do is pack crockery
For the last 15 years them get my labor.
Now after 15 years I fall out of favor.

England is a bitch.
There's no escaping it.
England is a bitch.
There's no running way from it.

Me know them say they have work, work in abundant.
Yet still, they make me redundant.
Now at 55, I'm getting quite old.
Yet still, them send me to go draw dole.

England is a bitch
There's no escaping it
England is a bitch, for true.
Is what we going to do about it?

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

thanx ;-)

Anonymous said...

nice thx

Anonymous said...

thx

Zoid Oid said...

Brockley not Barclay.