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irish_mckayAlthough she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

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Senghor: Femme noire

nude-naomi-campbell-5In French:

Femme nue, femme noire
Vétue de ta couleur qui est vie, de ta forme qui est beauté
J’ai grandi à ton ombre; la douceur de tes mains bandait mes yeux
Et voilà qu’au coeur de l’Eté et de Midi,
Je te découvre, Terre promise, du haut d’un haut col calciné
Et ta beauté me foudroie en plein coeur, comme l’éclair d’un aigle

In English:

Naked woman, black woman
Clothed in your colour which is life, and your form which is beauty
I grew into your shadow; the sweetness of your hands bandaged my eyes
And there you are in the heart of Summer and Midday,
I discover you, Promised Land, from the top of a scorched high pass
And your beauty strikes me in plain heart, like the flash of an eagle.

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Remarks:

A French poem by Senghor about the Tirailleurs Senegalais, the African soldiers who fought for the French Empire, particularly in the two world wars of the 1900s. Slam poem Manu performs.

Part of this translated into English (by M.A. Yemane):

Listen to me, Senegalese sharpshooters, beneath the solitude of the black earth and of death
In your solitude without eyes, without ears, more than my dark skin in the depths of the French provinces
without even the warmth of your comrades sleeping next to you
like the old days in the trenches
like the old days in the village under the baobab tree
Listen to me, black-skinned Senegalese sharpshooters, albeit without ears, without eyes
in your triple enclosure of night.

The whole thing in French:

Aux Tirailleurs Sénégalais morts pour la France

Voici le Soleil
Qui fait tendre la poitrine des vierges
Qui fait sourire sur les bancs verts les vieillards
Qui réveillerait les morts sous une terre maternelle.
J’entends le bruit des canons—est-ce d’Irun ?—
On fleurit les tombes, on réchauffe le Soldat Inconnu.
Vous, mes frères obscurs, personne ne vous nomme.
On vous promet 500 000 de vos enfants à la gloire des futurs morts, on les remercie d’avance, futurs morts obscurs
Die schwarze Schande !

Ecoutez-moi, Tirailleurs Sénégalais, dans la solitude de la terre noire et de la mort
Dans votre solitude sans yeux, sans oreilles, plus que dans ma peau sombre au fond de la Province
Sans même la chaleur de vos camarades couchés tout contre vous, comme jadis dans la tranchée, jadis dans les palabres du village
Ecoutez-moi, tirailleurs à la peau noire, bien que sans oreilles et sans yeux dans votre triple enceinte de nuit.

Nous n’avons pas loué de pleureuses, pas même les larmes de vos femmes anciennes
Elles ne se rappellent que vos grands coups de colère, préférant l’ardeur des vivants.
Les plaintes des pleureuses trop claires
Trop vite asséchées les joues de vos femmes comme en saison Sèche les torrents du Fouta
Les larmes les plus chaudes trop claires et trop vite bues au coin des lèvres oublieuses.

Nous vous apportons, écoutez-nous, nous qui épelions vos noms dans les mois que vous mourriez
Nous, dans ces jours de peur sans mémoire, vous apportons l’amitié de vos camarades d’âge.
Ah ! puissé-je un jour d’une voix couleur de braise, puissé-je chanter
L’amitié des camarades fervente comme des entrailles et délicate, forte comme des tendons.
Ecoutez-nous, morts étendus dans l’eau au profond des plaines du Nord et de l’Est.
Recevez le salut de vos camarades noirs, Tirailleurs Sénégalais

MORTS POUR LA REPUBLIQUE !

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you are sucha fool/ i haveta love you
you decide to give me a poem/ intent on it/ actually
you pull/ kiss me from 125th to 72nd street/ on
the east side/ no less
you are sucha fool/ you gonna give me/ the poet/
the poem
insistin on proletarian images/ we buy okra/
3 lbs for $1/ & a pair of 98 cent shoes
we kiss
we wrestle
you make sure at east 110 street/ we have cognac
no beer all day
you are sucha fool/ you fall over my day like
a wash of azure

you take my tongue outta my mouth/
make me say foolish things
you take my tongue outta my mouth/ lay it on yr skin
like the dew between my legs
on this the first day of silver balloons
& lil girl’s braids undone
friendly savage skulls on bikes/ wish me good-day
you speak spanish like a german & ask puerto rican
market men on lexington if they are foreigners

oh you are sucha fool/ i cant help but love you
maybe it was something in the air
our memories
our first walk
our first…
yes/ alla that

where you poured wine down my throat in rooms
poets i dreamed abt seduced sound & made history/
you make me feel like a cheetah
a gazelle/ something fast & beautiful
you make me remember my animal sounds/
so while i am an antelope
ocelot & serpent speaking in tongues
my body loosens for/ you

you decide to give me the poem
you wet yr fingers/ lay it to my lips
that i might write some more abt you/
how you come into me
the way the blues jumps outta b.b.king/ how
david murray assaults a moon & takes her home/
like dyanne harvey invades the wind

oh you/ you are sucha fool/
you want me to write some more abt you
how you come into me like a rollercoaster in a
dip that swings
leaving me shattered/ glistening/ rich/ screeching
& fully clothed

you set me up to fall into yr dreams
like the sub-saharan animal i am/ in all this heat
wanting to be still
to be still with you
in the shadows
all those buildings
all those people/ celebrating/ sunlight & love/ you

you are sucha fool/ you spend all day piling up images
locations/ morsels of daydreams/ to give me a poem

just smile/ i’ll get it

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