Friday, April 15, 2011

Strange Fruit: A Haunting Imagery

(Image courtesy of : link)

I was going through a list of famous civil rights songs when I came upon Billie Holiday's Strange Fruit. Checked out the video of her performing it, had massive goosebumps and knew that there was something about the words that made the song what it is. Checked out the lyrics and knew that it has to be a poem. I was right.


(Image courtesy of: link)

Originally written by Abel Meeropol (above) and published under the pen name Lewis Allen, a Jewish high-school teacher from the Bronx, "Strange Fruit" was about the lynching of two black men. The poem was later introduced to Billie Holiday who then made the piece a regular part of her live performances. It was said that whenever she would perform it, the waiters would stop all service in advance, the room would be in darkness except for a spotlight on Holiday's face and there would be no encore. Just her, music and these words:


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 popular 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 cry


Remember, always say NO to racism. We are all created by God, nobody is superior than the other :) Love and light. HUGS.

0 poetic mutterings: