“Strange Fruit”

Lyrics & Music by Abel Meerpool, 1937
Performed by Billie Holiday


Southern trees bearing a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies 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 a fruit for the crow to pluck
For the rain to wither, for the wind to suck
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

 – Originally published as a poem in 1937 by Abel Meerpool, aka Lewis Allen, a Jewish schoolteacher from the Bronx, depicts Southern trees bearing “strange fruit.”