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About Nooses 23 October 2007

Posted by mecca in Poetry, Politics, Sociology.

Here below is a reminder of the culture and history of nooses in America — twisted rope as the symbol of “strange” mendacity now coming into vogue . . . as what? A wordless racial slur? Proof that the clean up of the past was not so thorough? I came across this chilling song performed most notably by the late Billie Holiday (and penned by Lewis Allan). It reminded me of a time that only “appears” distant. Human blight cannot be framed as an “historical” moment. It evokes a struggle against a potential that disrespects time and context.

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.



1. Irving - 2 November 2007

A terrible, disturbing and ultimately true song, sad and filled with the history of this country and the slow progress being made today. Step by step it goes.

Ya Haqq!

2. Blair - 2 November 2007

The credit for “Strange Fruit” should go to Abel Meeropol , a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx, who used the pen name Lewis Allan. He wrote it as a poem and set It to music and performed it as a protest song around New York. Black vocalist Laura Duncan performed it at Madison Square Garden before Billie Holiday recorded it. Holiday made it a part of her regular performances. The citation could be “by Abel Meeropol as performed by Billie Holliday.” Meeropol said he was insprited by a photo taken of a lynching in Indiana, which he probably regarded as part of the South.

3. Ibrahim - 10 November 2007

Blair, thanks for your comment. I did not reproduce the poem from her song, but from an anthology of African-American literature, in which Billie Holiday is given as author. I did not see Mr. Meeropol’s (nor Allan’s) name. If what you say is true, then the correction must be made. I’ll do a bit of research and adjust accordingly. Thanks again!

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