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Jamaica’s Long Dream of Freedom

Karl Constantine FOLKES 1935 (Portland)

Sixteen Fifty Five.
Jamaica became British.
In battle captured.
From Spain who once possessed her.
Known then as Xaymaca.

“A Plain of Gold Blessed.”
In indigenous language.
So thought Columbus.
But no gold was to be found.
And Columbus was dismayed.

A new name given.
“Santiago” it was called.
As a “mini-state.”
Columbus’s own fiefdom.
His own family treasure.

Founding settlements.
Columbus explored the land.
Among them St. Ann’s.
Known as Santa Gloria.
And today, as St. Ann’s Bay.

At Ocho Rios.
Was another settlement.
Which had eight rivers.
Was then called Chorreras.
And today, Ocho Rios.

Too long we forget.
Jamaica’s first residents.
They, the Tainos.
The first true inhabitants.
Recorded in history.

We find them today.
On Jamaica’s Coat-of-Arms.
Our First Citizens.
Of “Land of Wood and Water.”
“Xaymaca” they named it.

Brutally treated.
Were the Taino people.
Not ever respected.
By the Spanish settlers.
And, in fact, enslaved by them.

Possessed by Britain.
The island flourished greatly.
With local products.
Cacao and pimento.
And our Blue Mountain coffee.

But the King of Crops.
From slavery’s plantations.
Was the sugarcane.
Harvested by slaves in chains.
Toiling sunset to sundown.

A massive goldmine.
Of such enormous profits.
For the British Crown.
What a rich marketing source.
For Great Britain’s fiscal growth.

A revolution.
Of industrial nature.
Britain’s benefits.
From the sweat and brow of slaves.
Considered just as chattels.

Lasting centuries.
Slavery was then abolished.
Eighteen Thirty Four.
On the first day of August.
Full Emancipation made.

With years of struggle.
Against colonial rule.
On August the sixth.
In Year Nineteen Sixty Two.
Jamaica independent.

Still tied to Britain.
Jamaica is commonwealth.
Ties still not severed.
Elizabeth reigns as Queen.
Remains as the Head-of-State.

A new dawn begins.
In Year Twenty Twenty Two.
The people wake up.
Observe their chains are still there.
Identity as “British.”

These must be severed.
Right now — Immediately!
Not any later.
Too long we’ve sought for freedom.
Not found in a Commonwealth.

With eyes now open.
Jamaica seeks renewal.
Discovery of Self.
To look within her own soul.
And nurture her own birthright.

Once upon a time.
Manley as politician.
Had his own vision.
That Jamaica should be free.
And become a Republic.

Others came after.
Other politicians, too.
P.J. Patterson.
With a similar vision.
And Portia Simpson Miller.

Now Andrew Holness.
These honorable leaders.
Have called for freedom.
To break hegemonic chains.
Jamaica as Republic.

After centuries.
A Republic being born.
Jamaicans observe.
Their cultural resources.
Must be fully recognized.

The queen since deceased,
Her son, King Charles, succeeds her;
Twenty Twenty Two.
Jamaica now considers
The Island as Republic.

A vote must be made
By Jamaica’s parliament.
A referendum
Must also be considered
Before this separation.

A paradigm shift.
And an auspicious moment.
Calls for reflection.
Immensity of changes.
That will all be required.

The structure of laws.
And the role of Government.
As a Republic.
The cultural resources.
These must all be considered.

The role of language.
And of bilingualism.
Jamaica’s assets.
Cultural and linguistic.
All these must be considered.

From small steps taken.
To bigger ones being made.
A Great Leap Forward.
Commonwealth — then Republic.
May God be with the people.

May His will be done.
May His solemn will prevail
In what steps are made
To guide the path that’s taken
For better, and not for worse.

We pray for success.
Wisdom from those as leaders.
Equity for all.
With Unity prevailing.
“Out of Many, One People!”

About this poem

The Commonwealth Nation of Jamaica has formally embarked on new initiatives to declare the island a Republic by the time of its sixtieth anniversary of independence from Great Britain, on August 6, 2022, or shortly thereafter, in the nearby future. Jamaica’s long ties to Great Britain are traced to 1655, the year the island was taken from Spain. Jamaica’s cultural and linguistic ties are tied to Africa, Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, France, and the indigenous First Peoples of the Americas, particularly the Tainos of the Arawak peoples, whose images are borne with pride on Jamaica’s Coat-of-Arms. This poem, “Jamaica’s Long Dream of Freedom,” pays tribute and honor to all those heroes, known and unknown, who have fought bravely for the island to become a fully autonomous sovereign nation in every respect, culturally, linguistically, socially, economically, and religiously. May God grant this nation divine guidance as it contemplates the path it should pursue to secure greater liberty for its future, whether as a continued member of the Commonwealth of Nations, or as a newly-formed autonomous Republic with a constitutional government that is of, for, and by the people. 

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Written on March 22, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on March 22, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes on October 02, 2022

3:46 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 3,705
Words 755
Stanzas 30
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 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 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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