A Song of Bananas

Brazilian Sketches, 1927




HAVE you no Bananas, simple townsmen all?
“Nay, but we have them certainly.
“We buy them off the barrows, with the vegetable-marrows
“And the cabbage of our own country,
“(From the costers of our own country.)”

Those are not Bananas, simple townsmen all.
(Plantains from Canaryward maybe!)
For the true are red and gold, and they fill no steamer’s hold,
But flourish in a rare country,
(That men go far to see.)

Their stiff fronds point the nooning down, simple townsmen all,
Or rear against the breezes off the sea;
Or duck and loom again, through the curtains of the rain
That the loaded hills let free—
(Bellying ’twixt the uplands and the sea.)

Little birds inhabit there, simple townsmen all—
Jewelled things no bigger than a bee;
And the opal butterflies plane and settle, flare and rise,
Through the low-arched greenery,
(That is malachite and jade of the sea.)

The red earth works and whispers there, simple towns men all,
Day and night in rank fecundity,
That the Blossom and the Snake lie open and awake, As it was by Eden Tree,
(When the First Moon silvered through the Tree) . . .

But you must go to business, simple townsmen all,
By ’bus and train and tram and tube must flee!
For your Pharpars and Abanas do not include Bananas
(And Jordan is a distant stream to drink of, simple townsmen),
Which leaves the more for me!