‘Strange Fruits’

One of the most moving, nay harrowing, poems I know, is one called ‘Strange Fruits’. The poem was written by an American teacher, Abel Meeropol and first published in 1937.

It is an out-and-out protest song, a fiercely evocative cry against the lynching of black African Americans in the southern states of the USA. The poem’s author himself composed the music to which his poem was sung, most famously by Billie Holiday, who recorded it in 1939.


 Many artists have recorded the song since, but I want particularly to bring to your notice a cover version sung by Nina Simone.  Her haunting rendering of the song is soulful, dramatic and extremely moving.  I have chosen a video version which enables the listener to concentrate on the words and their meanings rather than the violent images which are available on some of the video recordings of this song which, should you wish to see, can be found on YouTube.  The haunting falling tone Nina Simone uses in the last verse will forever be seared on my memory.

You will find the video by clicking on this YouTube link …   ‘Strange Fruits’


Lament to Portholme

Kieran O’Lenahan

Until he died in 1996, Kieran, who was born in Ireland, lived and worked in Huntingdon.  He cared passionately for the environment and made sure his voice was heard on local issues.  One such issue resulted in the following poem submitted  in 1974 to his local Council by Kieran in his representation against proposed local development  . . .portholmeissue


 Lament to Portholme

Sweet meadow
where one could walk
entranced in solitude, alone.
Lost in an immensity of open spaces;
disturbed only by the Skylark’s song.
Skylarks soaring, singing,
as the day was long.
Walking amidst wild flowers
and the flowers were many,
knee deep in a blossoming throng,meadow
Sweet birds, sweet flowers,sweet solitude,
all, all, are gone.
No profit in solitude
of a Skylark’s song.
Where man’s soul soars
among the Skylarks
knee deep in blossoming flowers
bulldoze it,
rape beauty!skylark
Progress, profit
greed alone,
but not alone in beauty
man destroys
when greed reigns supreme,
there is no beauty
no love
no feeling
no peace all sacrificed
all must cease,
when Mammon reigns
and man’s soul sleeps,
there is no other end
no futurebulldozer
There is money in it!
flowers lost
entrancing meadows
for ignoble ends.pleasley

 *     *     *


Submitted by … Richard Lee.
I am indebted to him and to Kieran’s family
for permission to reproduce this poem.