Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body 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 magnolia 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.
I had never heard this song before, nor did I know the story behind it. I was listening to ‘Talk of the Nation‘ on the radio today, and they were talking about Billie Holiday, amongst other things, and brought up this song. It’s chilling.
You can read about the history of the song, and its inspiration in the famous picture of Thomas Shipp and Abram Smith, two black men lynched in Marion, IN, in 1930.