"Lizard", crafted in Jamaica

Credit: Mmofra Foundation

The  Lizard by Gladys Casely-Hayford

I met a handsome lizard upon the gravel walk,
And so I stopped politely and asked him for
a talk;
He nodded once, he nodded twice to make his
meaning plain,
Glanced up at me with wee bright eyes and
nodded once again.

I said, “You live on flies. Do you eat them
alive or dead?
And when you eat them, do they still keep
buzzing in your head?”
He shrugged, then very haughtily inclined to
me his ear
Insinuating it was time I made my meaning

“I’m sorry,” I began, “but please, this
question if I may;
Do you, Sir, shake your head for no and nod
your head for aye?”
He glanced at me with cold disdain, ignoring
me, until
He slowly and deliberately climbed on the
He turned, he nodded once, twice, thrice to
make his meaning plain,
Glanced up at me, with wee bright eyes and
nodded once again.


"Lizard", crafted in Jamaica

About the author

Gladys May Casely-Hayford was born in Axim, Ghana (it was called the Gold Coast then) in 1904.  Her parents were both famous West Africans.  Her Sierra-Leonian mother, Adelaide Casely-Hayford was a writer, educator and “African Victorian feminist” of her day, and her father was the Fanti lawyer and pan-Africanist leader Joseph E. Casely-Hayford.

Gladys was taken to England as a child, and returned to Sierra Leone to teach at her mother Adelaide’s school for girls. She said that by the age of 12, she was convinced she was “meant to write for Africa”.  Growing up as a colonial British subject, she intended ” to imbue our own people with the idea of their own beauty”.

She also traveled in America and Europe.  Sometimes written under her pen name “Aquah Laluah”, her poems began to be published in some well-known monthly magazines in Harlem, New York, during the period called the Harlem Renaissance.

Gladys is recognized internationally as a poet whose work, in both English and Krio, pictured West African life and culture very vividly.  She also joined a Berlin jazz band in the 1930’s!

A brilliant person with many artistic talents, Gladys died quite young in 1950. Both she and her mother Adelaide should be remembered as cultural treasures of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Africa and the African Diaspora.

Gladys Casely-Hayford

Gladys Casely-Hayford, West African Poet


Adelaide Casely Hayford, West African educator and writer

Adelaide Casely Hayford, West African educator and writer

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