down in the jungle so they say
There's a signifying motherfucker down the way.
There hadn't been no disturbin' in the jungle for quite a bit,
For up jumped the monkey in the tree one day and laughed,
"I guess I'll start some shit." (5)
Now the lion come through the jungle one peaceful day,
When the signifying monkey stopped him and this what he started to
He said, "Mr. Lion," he said, "A bad-assed motherfucker
down your way.
He said, "Yeah! The way he talks about your folks is a certain
I even heard him curse when he mentioned your grandmother's name."
The lion's tail shot back like a forty-four,
When he went down the jungle in all uproar.
He was pushing over mountains, knocking down trees.
In the middle of a pass he met an ape.
He said, "I ought to beat your ass just to get in shape."
He met the elephant in the shade of a tree.
"Come on long-eared motherfucker, it's gonna be you and me."
Now the elephant looked up out the corner of his eye,
Said, "Go on bird-shit, fight somebody your size."
Then the lion jumped back and made a hell of a pass. (20)
The elephant side-stepped and kicked him dead on his ass.
Now he knocked in his teeth, fucked-up his eye,
Kicked in his ribs, tied-up his face,
Tied his tail in knots, stretched his tail out of place.
Now they fought all that night, half the next day. (25)
I'll be damned if I can see how the lion got away.
When they was fussing and fighting, lion came back through the jungle
more dead than alive,
When the monkey started some more of that signifying jive.
He said, "Damn, Mr. Lion, you went through here yesterday, the
Now you comeback today, damn near hung." (30)
He said, "Now you come by here when me and my wife trying to
get a little bit,
T' tell me that 'I rule' shit."
He said, "Shut up, motherfucker, you better not roar
'Cause I'll come down there and kick your ass some more."
The monkey started getting panicked and jumped up and down, (35)
When his feet slipped and his ass hit the ground.
Like a bolt of lightning, a stripe of white heat,
The lion was on the monkey with all four feet.
The monkey looked up with a tear in his eyes,
He said, "Please, Mr. Lion, I apologize." (40)
He said, "You lemme get my head out the sand
Ass out the grass, I'll fight you like a natural man."
The lion jumped back and squared for a fight.
The motherfucking monkey jumped clear out of sight.
He said, "Yeah, you had me down, you had me last, (45)
But you left me free, now you can still kiss my ass."
Again he started getting panicked and jumping up and down.
His feet slipped and his ass hit the ground.
Like a bolt of lightning, stripe of white heat,
Once more the lion was on the monkey with all four feet. (50)
Monkey looked up again with tears in his eyes.
He said, "Please, Mr. Lion, I apologize."
Lion said, "Ain't gonna be no apologizing.
I'ma put an end to his motherfucking signifying."
Now when you go through the jungle, there's a tombstone so they say,
"Here the Signifying Monkey lay,
Who got kicked in the nose, fucked-up in the eyes,
Stomped in the ribs, kicked in the face,
Drove backwards to his ass-hole, knocked his neck out of place."
That's what I say. (60)
D. Abrahams, Deep Down in the Jungle: Negro Narrative Folklore
from the Streets of Philadelphia (Hatboro, PA: Folklore Associates,
1964): 149-51. This variant of "The Signifying Monkey" is
a toast, a narrative poem improvised in performance from a store of
themes, conventions, and formulas. Other common toast subjects are
the badman Stackolee and the sinking of the Titanic.