Oh, When Will We Ever Learn?

A redemption song.
The voices of our people.
A redemption hymn.
Revolutionary call.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

A Baptist deacon.
Paul Bogle, Freedom Fighter.
A staunch supporter.
Morant Bay Rebellion.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Another hero.
Named George William Gordon.
Along with Bogle.
Morant Bay Rebellion.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Nanny of Maroons.
She too, struggled for freedom.
Not surrendering.
Urging her kinsfolk to fight.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

And Samuel Sharpe.
Described as instigator.
Of rebellion.
Against oppressive slavery.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Mosiah Garvey.
Our First National Hero.
Born in St. Ann’s Bay.
Founder of U-N-I-A.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

A wealth of heroes.
All these national leaders.
And so many more.
With their redemption voices.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

All sing of freedom.
Resistance from oppression.
Their wailing is heard.
In English and in Patwa.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Haiti’s discovery.
Offers linguistic lessons.
That are of value.
About our Creole language.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Time now for new songs.
For new songs of redemption.
For liberty songs.
In voices with new syntax.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

A nation rises.
Empowered by the voices.
Of its ancestors.
Creole voices uplifted.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

The pride of people.
With their Creole tongue suppressed.
Is suffocating.
Freedom delayed, not advanced.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

A man called Marley.
Folk hero — Rastafari.
Had redemption songs.
He wailed out as a prophet.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Sweet redemption songs.
Come from the souls of people.
Songs of liberty.
Uplifting ancient voices.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

JAH Rastafari.
Creole redemption singing.
In all our churches.
Uplifting all our people.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

With ancestral worship songs.
Uplifting voices.
Pocomania, as well.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Our Creole language.
As milk of human nature.
Is what nourishes.
That which gives us sustenance.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

A new redemption song.
Coming from the pulpit.
With voices wailing,
Calling out for social change.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Pastoral voices.
Appealing from the pulpit.
Jamaican pastors.
Crying out for redemption.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Old identity.
Prior to independence.
Redemption muted.
Not facing, naming what’s wrong.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

New theology.
In post-colonial church.
A post-independence stance.
Oh, when will we ever learn?

Mi a beg unu.
Fi nuo seh fiwi labrish.
Dat fiwi Patwa.
It bunununu soh tel.
Oh, when will we ever learn?


About this poem

This poem “Oh, When Will We Ever Learn?” emerged from the depths of my soul, after reading an eye-opening book, “Redemption Song: Reading the Scripture for Social Change,” written by The Right Reverend Dr. Robert McLean Thompson, Retired Bishop of Kingston, Jamaica, who served as a priest of the Anglican Church for 47 years. His book, published by Ian Randle Publishers in 2021, is an appeal for social transformation in Jamaica’s post-colonial culture that, Dr. Thompson argues, is continuing to be stifled by hegemonic colonial policies even in the twenty first century. In light of this frank assessment by Dr. Thompson, I issue my own appeal in Jamaican Creole (“Patwa”)), as follows: Mi a beg unu fi nuo seh dat fiwi patwa it bunununu soh tel (In English translation: I am appealing to you to know that our manner of speech is so delightfully lovely). Oh, when will we ever learn? 

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Written on March 11, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on March 11, 2022

Modified on April 28, 2023

2:50 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme abcxD effED gebED hijxD xfekD kgxxD hhxhD iexlD khxmD hehhD hhhnD bxjxD kfhxD hbkhD fjhbD ihhoD mfhhD apjxD hpheD khnaD kqahD cqloD
Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 2,659
Words 569
Stanzas 22
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1991 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s ‘Liebe Mili’ (translated into English as “Dear Mili”), Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes of Analytical Psychology. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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