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  • Poem of the Day: Night in Sine
    Woman, place your soothing hands upon my brow,
    Your hands softer than fur.
    Above us balance the palm trees, barely rustling
    In the night breeze. Not even a lullaby.
    Let the rhythmic silence cradle us.
    Listen to its song. Hear the beat of our dark blood,
    Hear the deep pulse of Africa in the mist of lost villages.

    Now sets the weary moon upon its slack seabed
    Now the bursts of laughter quiet down, and even the storyteller
    Nods his head like a child on his mother's back
    The dancers' feet grow heavy, and heavy, too,
    Come the alternating voices of singers.

    Now the stars appear and the Night dreams
    Leaning on that hill of clouds, dressed in its long, milky pagne.
    The roofs of the huts shine tenderly. What are they saying
    So secretly to the stars? Inside, the fire dies out
    In the closeness of sour and sweet smells.

    Woman, light the clear-oil lamp. Let the Ancestors
    Speak around us as parents do when the children are in bed.
    Let us listen to the voices of the Elissa Elders. Exiled like us
    They did not want to die, or lose the flow of their semen in the sands.
    Let me hear, a gleam of friendly souls visits the smoke-filled hut,
    My head upon your breast as warm as tasty dang streaming from the fire,
    Let me breathe the odor of our Dead, let me gather
    And speak with their living voices, let me learn to live
    Before plunging deeper than the diver
    Into the great depths of sleep.

    Léopold Sédar Senghor, "Night in Sine" from The Collected Poems, translated by Melvin Dixon. Copyright © 1998 by The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia on behalf of the University of Virginia Press. Reprinted by permission of The University of Virginia Press.

    Source: The Collected Poems (The University of Virginia Press, 1998)

    Léopold Sédar Senghor

    More poems by this author



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