Checking Out Me History

Checking Out Me History

Dem tell me
Dem tell me
Wha dem want to tell me

Bandage up me eye with me own history
Blind me to my own identity

Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat
dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat
But Touissant L'Ouverture
no dem never tell me bout dat

Toussaint
a slave
with vision
lick back
Napoleon
battalion
and first Black
Republic born
Toussaint de thorn
to de French
Toussaint de beacon
of de Haitian Revolution

Dem tell me bout de man who discover de balloon
and de cow who jump over de moon
Dem tell me bout de dish run away with de spoon
but dem never tell me bout Nanny de maroon

Nanny
See-far woman
of mountain dream
fire-woman struggle
hopeful stream
to freedom river

Dem tell me bout Lord Nelson and Waterloo
but dem never tell me bout Shaka de great Zulu
Dem tell me bout Columbus and 1492
but what happen to de Caribs and de Arawaks too

Dem tell me bout Florence Nightingale and she lamp
and how Robin Hood used to camp
Dem tell me bout ole King Cole was a merry ole soul
but dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole

From Jamaica
she travel far
to the Crimean War
she volunteer to go
and even when de British said no
she still brave the Russian snow
a healing star
among the wounded
a yellow sunrise
to the dying

Dem tell me
Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me
But now I checking out me own history
I carving out me identity


from Half-Caste and Other Poems (Hodder Children's, 2004), © John Agard 2004, used by permission of the author c/o Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency.

Recordings

John Agard

John Agard Reading from his poems

1Tongue

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2Flag

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3Checking Out Me History

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4Man to Pan

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5The Coin of Birth

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6Anancy's Thoughts on Colours

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7My Brollie

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8Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Old Tie

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9How Nansi Got Lead Part in Swan Lake

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10Rainbow

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11Limbo Dancer's Soundpoem

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12Limbo Dancer's Mantra

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13Limbo Dancer at Immigration

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14Once Upon a Time

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15Where Does Laughter Begin?

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16Twinkle Twinkle Firefly

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17The Speller's Bag

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18The Older the Violin the Sweeter the Tune

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19Rat Race

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20Swimming Teeth

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21Hello H20

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22Moonbelly

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23On First Name Terms

24Colour of Evil

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25Coffee in Heaven

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26Question Time with the Devil

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27Progress

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28Bridge Builder

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29Half-caste

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30Sonnet 1

31Sonnet 2

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32Sonnet 21

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33Sonnet 55

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34Sonnet 60

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35Listen Mr Oxford don

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