By Aimé Césaire
Tuesday, April 22, 2008.
Editor's note: Originally written in French but translated by Rethabile Masilo who also wrote the accompanying bio.
where adventure keeps a clean eye
there where women shimmer with language
there where death is beautiful in the hand like a milk season bird
there where on bended knee the underground gathers a wealth of sloes more violent than caterpillars
there where for nimble wonder anything goes
there where vigorous night bleeds the speed of true vegetables
there where bees of stars sting a hive’s sky brighter than night
there where my heel sound fills space and counts down the removal of the face of time
there where my word’s rainbow must bring together tomorrow and hope, infant and queen.
for having insulted my masters bitten the sultan’s soldiers
for having moaned in the wilderness
for having called out to my guards
for having appealed to jackals and hyenas shepherds of caravans
the wild horse of smoke hurry on the stage hem for an instant the lava of its fragile
peacock’s tail, then tearing off its shirt suddenly split its chest and I watch it as
the British Isles as islets as broken rocks melting bit by bit into the lucid sea of the air
where bathe ominously
Frantz Fanon wrote that “before Césaire, West Indian literature was a literature of Europeans.”
Aimé Césaire was born on June 26, 1913, in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, in the Caribbean. He died on April 17, 2008, in Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique.
While studying in Paris he came into contact with several literary-minded black students from all over the world, including the late Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet, intellectual and President of Senegal. The two men struck a friendship and exchanged ideas and experiences, founding the Negritude movement in the process.
They also set up the magazine L’étudiant Noir (The black Student), in whose pages the term négritude first appeared. The essence of negritude was the rejection of assimilation by colonialism and other racial systems, and the expression of one’s own being. It was mostly cultural and less political.
When Aimé Césaire declared that je suis de la race de ceux qu’on opprime (I am of the race of the oppressed), there was little colour in the meaning, but much harmony with oppressed people. Mr Césaire has left for us volumes of poems, plays and essays.
With thanks to www.Blacklooks.org.
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