The Slave
Mighty Sparrow Lyrics


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I'm a slave from a land so far
I was caught
And I was brought here from Africa
I'm a slave from a land so far
I was caught
And I was brought here from Africa
Well it was licks like fire
From de white slavemaster
Everyday I down on knees
Weeks and weeks before we cross de seas
To reach in de West Indies

And den they make me work
Oh yes ah work
Good lord no pay
Ah toil, ah toil
Ah toil, ah toil
So hard each day
I'm dying...
Yeah I'm crying...
Oh...
Oh Lord I wanna be free!

Many times ah wanted to run
But de English slavemaster
Standing dey wit de gun
Oh I know he going to shoot to kill
So ah stay, ah stay and ah pray
But ah planning still
I study night and day how to break away
Ah got to make a brilliant escape
But everytime ah tink 'bout de whip an' dem dogs
Meh body does start to shake

Because dey made me work
Oh yes ah work
Oh good lord no pay
And den ah toil, ah toil,
Ah toil, ah toil
So hard each day
I'm dying...
I'm crying...
Oh...
Oh Lord I wanna be free!

In my heart, there was much to say
Ah always hope de boss
Woulda listen to me some day
Although he knew
My request was small
It was de sting ah the whip there
To answer me when ah call
We had to chant and sing to express our feelings
To dat wicked and cruel man
That was the only medicine to make him listen
And is so calypso began

Oh when dey make you work
Oh Lord you work
Good lord no pay
And den you toil and toil
And toil and toil
So hard each day
I'm dying...
Yeah, oh Lord I'm crying...
Oh...
Oh Lord I wanna be free!

Times have changed in so many ways
Till one day somebody said
"Free de bloody slaves"
I was then put out on the street
Ah got no food, got no clothes
And no place to sleep
I had no education
And no particular ambition
This I cannot conceal
Forgot my native culture
Ah lived like a vulture
From de white boss ah had to steal

He made me work
Oh yes ah work
Oh Lord no pay
Yeah yeah yeah ah toil and toil
And toil and toil
So hard each day
I'm dying...
Oh I'm crying, oh dying...




Oh...
Oh Lord, Lord I wanna be free!

Overall Meaning

Mighty Sparrow's "The Slave" is a song about the struggles of a slave brought from Africa to the West Indies. The lyrics describe the conditions the slave endured, such as having to work hard without pay and being punished with whips and dogs. Despite the slave's desire to be free, they could not escape due to the fear of being shot and killed by the English slavemasters. The song talks about the only way the slave could express their feelings to the cruel man was through songs and chants, which later became known as calypso. Eventually, the slave was freed, but faced new challenges such as having no food, no clothes, and no education. The song speaks to the larger issue of the slave trade and the harsh realities of slavery.


Line by Line Meaning

I'm a slave from a land so far
I'm a slave that was taken away from my homeland far away.


I was caught
I was captured against my will.


And I was brought here from Africa
I was taken from Africa to a foreign land where I was treated as a slave.


Well it was licks like fire
The treatment from the white slavemaster was very brutal, like fire.


From de white slavemaster
The person in charge of the slaves was a white person.


Everyday I down on knees
Every day I had to kneel down in submission to the slavemaster.


Weeks and weeks before we cross de seas
We spent weeks traveling across the seas before reaching the West Indies.


To reach in de West Indies
We were taken to the West Indies to be enslaved.


And den they make me work
They forced me to work without any pay.


Good lord no pay
I did not receive any form of payment for the work I did.


Ah toil, ah toil
I worked very hard every day.


So hard each day
The work was very difficult every day.


I'm dying...
The harsh treatment and hard work were killing me slowly.


Yeah I'm crying...
I cried because I was in pain and wanted to be free.


Oh Lord I wanna be free!
I prayed to be free from slavery and the harsh treatment I was receiving.


Many times ah wanted to run
I wanted to escape from slavery many times.


But de English slavemaster
The person enslaving me was English.


Standing dey wit de gun
The slavemaster carried a gun to prevent me from escaping.


Oh I know he going to shoot to kill
I knew that if I tried to escape, the slavemaster would shoot me to kill.


So ah stay, ah stay and ah pray
So I stayed and prayed for the day I could be free.


But ah planning still
I kept planning how to escape from slavery.


I study night and day how to break away
I spent many nights and days coming up with a plan to escape.


Ah got to make a brilliant escape
I knew I had to come up with a great escape plan to be successful.


But everytime ah tink 'bout de whip an' dem dogs
Every time I thought about the whip and the dogs that the slavemaster had, I became scared.


Meh body does start to shake
I shook with fear because I knew what would happen to me if I got caught.


In my heart, there was much to say
I had a lot to say in my heart about my experiences, but I couldn't express them.


Ah always hope de boss
I always hoped the slavemaster would listen to me.


Woulda listen to me some day
I hoped the slavemaster would listen to my request, no matter how small.


It was de sting ah the whip there
The cruel treatment from the slavemaster hurt very badly.


To answer me when ah call
I wanted the slavemaster to listen when I called out for help.


We had to chant and sing to express our feelings
We had to sing and chant to express our innermost feelings and emotions.


To dat wicked and cruel man
We had to sing to the cruel and wicked slavemaster.


That was the only medicine to make him listen
The only way for the slavemaster to listen to us was when we sang to him.


And is so calypso began
This is how Calypso music started - as a way for slaves to express their feelings and emotions.


Times have changed in so many ways
Many things have changed over time.


Till one day somebody said
Until one day, someone said that slavery should be abolished.


"Free de bloody slaves"
The call was made to free the slaves from their suffering and pain.


I was then put out on the street
After being freed, I had no place to live and was forced to live on the streets.


Ah got no food, got no clothes
I was left with nothing - no food, no clothes, and no shelter.


And no place to sleep
I had nowhere to sleep.


I had no education
Because of my experience as a slave, I received no education.


And no particular ambition
Without an education, I had no specific goals or aspirations.


This I cannot conceal
I couldn't keep this secret - it was a harsh reality.


Forgot my native culture
I lost touch with my native culture due to being taken away to a foreign land.


Ah lived like a vulture
I lived a life of scavenging and struggling to survive.


From de white boss ah had to steal
I had to steal from the white boss in order to survive.




Contributed by Owen C. Suggest a correction in the comments below.
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Comments from YouTube:

@Lucas-vw3cj

Sparrow is a lyrical genius, he really takes you on a journey through his mind with his music

@shotundeshotayo6274

Absolutely

@Madamnutmeg

He didnโ€™t pen this . It was the great genius Winsford Devine

@josweetlove1537

@@Madamnutmeg matters not although it's great work by Devine but only the Mighty Sparrow could have brought it to life how he did !!

@GrandeGordoPapa

I never understood how people underestimated the genius of this man ๐Ÿ™

@kjun03

It was sensational when I heard this around 62/63 !
Thanks!!!

@davidmitchell3039

With music like this,Sparrow the mortal would die,but his music and legacy would forever be around.

@matajones

heard it for the first time today and love it.... the voice , the message , the emotion.. the music fantastic

@MrBruce5437

The mighty sparrow is 86 years old today, and still goin strong. God Bless the mighty sparrow

@djisha2635

My history teacher brought me here, thanks miss!

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