The work of Tom MacInnes

Chinook Days, by Tom MacInnes.  1926.  Vancouver: Sun Publishing Co. Ltd.

Chinook Days by Tom MacInnes

It’s seldom that I find myself promoting the work of an avowed fascist in this blog.  But as some used to say in the old CHINOOK listserv days, Chinook Jargon knows no politics.

Tom MacInnes

Tom MacInnes or McInnes, a highly popular poet in his time, was published aplenty in the Vancouver Sun‘s pages.  The handsome little book Chinook Days collects a number of his excellently written articles.

I rediscovered that little gem–it really does have lots of relevance to Chinuk Wawa–at the library the other day.  In a hurry to get home, I thought I’d grab it off Google Books.  That’s fallen through.  But for a placeholder till I revisit the stacks:

Another MacInnes collection, In Amber Lands (1910), showcases his somewhat Service or London-like verse.  I hesitate to call it just doggerel, as I’ve done with so much frontiersy poesy I’ve featured before.

And of interest in a blog about the contacts between languages and cultures in The West, one of them thar verses is “Chinatown Chant” with its Chinese Pidgin English diction.  Do you understand everything it’s saying?

CHINATOWN CHANT.

1.

I go down to Dupont Street
     See my very good friend:
I have something good to eat
With my very good friend:
Feel damblue and want some fun,
Play fantan with Wun Fat Bun,
He think me just Number One,
He my very good friend.

          Yim poi–I no care!
Yim poi–you no care.
Sometime good time all time maybe!
We no care–yim poi!

II.

Hello, how do, come in, sit down!
You my very good friend!
You come best place in Chinatown,
You my very good friend!
Too much cold and rain in street,
You look sick, me stand you treat,
Fix up something good to eat
For my very good friend.

Yim poi–I no care!
Yim poi–you no care.
Sometime good time all time maybe!
We no care–yim poi!

III.

S’pose you like some extra-dry,
You my very good friend: I
S’pose you like some mo-goo-gai,
You my very good friend!
Fine chop-suey, guy-see-ming,
Bamboo-stick in chicken-wing,
Mushroom stew with everything
For my very good friend.

          Yim poi–I no care!
Yim poi–you no care.
Sometime good time all time maybe!
We no care–yim poi!

 IV.
Plenty eat and plenty drink
     For my very good friend!
You stay here all night I think,
You my very good friend!
I lock fast big outside door,
Have best time you had before,
Sing-song girlie come some more
For my very good friend.

          Yim poi–I no care!
Yim poi–you no care.
Sometime good time all time maybe!
We no care–yim poi!

 V.

Sing-song girlie dance for you,
     Sing, my very good friend!
No more now you feel damblue,
Sing, my very good friend!
Too much drink and too much fun
Just enough for Number One,
You know nothing when you done,
O my very good friend!

          Yim poi–I no care!
Yim poi–you no care.
Sometime good time all time maybe!
We no care–yim poi!

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