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Five Nights of Bleeding

Linton Kwesi Johnson
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[1978]
Testo di Linton Kwesi Johnson
Musica di Poet And The Roots
Dall'album "Dread Beat an' Blood"
Da http://www.mtv.it/

Dread Beat an' Blood


 Linton Kwesi-Johnson


Johnson's first published poem was "Five Nights of Bleeding" which was later included in “Voices of the Living and the Dead” and in his second book, “Dread Beat and Blood”. It was written for Leroy Harris, a black youth stabbed at a party in South London. The poem was transitional. Its focus on the local, on the particulars of black life and struggle in London, would become typical of the poetry that his audience would read and hear in his books, performances, and recordings. And the rhythm is strongly that of the sound-system reggae that is the imaginative sound track for the events that occur in the poem's narrative, much in the way that the actual music would become integral with Johnson's performances. Yet the carefully chosen diction in the poem and the straightforward syntax were those of standard English, and there was no attempt at the Jamaican orthography which, as Mervyn Morris has noted, became fairly consistent in Johnson's later work.
"Five Nights" clearly exhibits what Johnson himself described as "the tension between Jamaican Creole and Jamaican English and between those and English English," and in some lines of the poem the creole strains to emerge:

SOFRANO B sound system
was a beating out a rhythm with a fire
coming down his reggae reggae wire...

and the rebels them start a fighting
the youth them just turn wild.


This linguistic tension posed a choice for Johnson, and in 1973, in addition to standard English, he began using a creole phonemic system of his own devising. "Yout Scene," the opening poem of his "Notes on Brixton" sequence, and his first to be written entirely in creole, provides a clear example. A comparison of the first stanza of the poem in manuscript with the revised published version illustrates Johnson's concern to find a satisfactory rendering of the sound of the creole:

Last Satdey
ha neva dey pon no form
so I decide fe tek a walk
dung a Brixton
an see wha' gwan. (manuscript)

last satdey
I neva dey pan no faam,
so I decide fe tek a walk
doun a BRIXTON,
an see wha gwane. (published)


Of the six poems in "Notes on Brixton," four were completely creole in syntax and orthography, anticipating the choice which Johnson made by 1974. From that year, almost all of his poetry is clearly and confidently creole.

Linton Kwesi-Johnson: poetry down a reggae wire by Robert J. Stewart
Madness, madness
Madness tight on the heads of the rebels
The bitterness erup's like a heart blas'
Broke glass, ritual of blood an' a-burnin'
Served by a cruelin' fighting
5 nights of horror and of bleeding
Broke glass, cold blades as sharp as the eyes of hate
And the stabbin', it's
War amongs' the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number one was in Brixton
Sofrano B sound system
'im was a-beatin' up the riddim with a fire
'im comin' down his reggae reggae wire
It was a sound checkin' down your spinal column
A bad music tearin' up your flesh
An' the rebels dem start a fighting
De youth dem just tun wild, it's
War amongs' the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number two down at Sheppard's
Right up Railton road
It was a night name friday when ev'ryone was high on brew or drew(?)
A pound or two worth of Kali
Sound comin' down of the king's music iron
The riddim just bubblin' an' backfirin'
Ragin' an' risin'
When suddenly the music cut -
Steelblade drinkin' blood in darkness, it's
War amongs' the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number three, over the river
Right outside the Rainbow
Inside James Brown was screamin soul
Outside the rebels were freezin' cold
Babylonian tyrants descended
Bounced on the brothers who were bold
So with a flick of the wris', a jab and a stab
The song of hate was sounded
The pile of oppression was vomited
And two policemen wounded
Righteous, righteous war

Night number four at the blues dance, abuse dance
Two rooms packed and the pressure pushin' up
Hot, hotheads
Ritual of blood in the blues dance
Broke glass splintering, fire
Axes, blades, brain blas'
Rebellion rushin' down the wrong road
Storm blowin' down the wrong tree
And Leroy bleeds near death on the fourth night
In a blues dance, on a black rebellious night, it's
War amongs' the rebels
Madness, madness, war

Night number five at the telegraph
Vengeance walk thru de doors
So slow, so smooth
So tight and ripe and -smash!
Broke glass, a bottle finds a head
And the shell of the fire heard -crack!
The victim feels fear
Finds hands, holds knife, finds throat
Oh, the stabbins and the bleedin' and the blood, it's
War amongs' the rebels
Madness, madness, war

inviata da Krzysiek Wrona - 16/9/2014 - 02:34



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