Posted by: Dr. Y. | May 5, 2017

“Vos yeux prophétisent une douleur” de Tchicaya U Tam’si / “Your Eyes Prophesy a Pain” by Tchicaya U Tam’si

Tchicaya UTamsi

Tchicaya U Tam’si (Revuenoire.com)

I share with you a poem by the late Congolese writer Tchicaya U Tam’si, “Vos yeux prophétisent une douleur”/”Your Eyes Prophesy a Pain.” Gérald-Félix Tchicaya is mostly known by his pseudonym Tchicaya U Tam’si, where U Tam’si means ‘the one who speaks for his country‘. Born in Mpili in the former French Congo (Republic of Congo), he was a poet, journalist, and an activist. He is considered by many as one of the greatest poets of his generation.

Patrice Emery Lumumba

Patrice Emery Lumumba

U Tam’si’s poetry uses symbolism, dark humor, and surrealist, corporeal imagery to explore cultural identity in a politically unstable society. A member of the Congolese independence movement, a friend of Patrice Lumumba, U Tam’si creates work on the nature of African identity that is sometimes connected to Aimé Césaire’s Negritude movement, which advocated for the protection of a distinct African culture in the face of French colonialism and European exploitation.

To me, the pain U Tam’si talks about in this poem is that of slavery, of colonialism, of neo-colonialism, of tribalism. He talks as if he was in the 1600s, during slavery times, and predicting more pain. What do you think? What pain is U Tam’si talking about? The original poem was published in Anthologie Africaine: Poésie Vol2, Jacques Chevrier, Collection Monde Noir Poche, 1988; the English translation is brought to you by Dr. Y., Afrolegends.com.

Vos yeux prophétisent une douleur…

Comme trois terrils, trois collines de cendres!

Mais dites-moi de qui sont ces cendres?

La mer obéissait déjà aux seuls négriers

Des négres s’y laissaient prendre

Malgré les sortilèges de leurs sourires

On sonnait le tocsin

A coups de pied au ventre

De passantes enceintes:

Il y a un couvre-feu pour faisander leur agonie

Les feux de brousse surtout donnent de mauvais rêves

Quant à moi

Quel crime commettrais-je ?

Si je violais la lune

Les ressusciterais-je ?

Quelle douleur prophétisent vos yeux ?

 

Your eyes prophesy a pain …

As three heaps, three hills of ashes!

But tell me, from whom are those ashes?

The sea already obeyed only the slave ships

Niggers were being captured

Despite the spells of their smiles

The tocsin was sounded

Through kicks in the belly

Of pregnant passers-by:

There is a curfew to intensify their agony

Bushfires especially give nightmares

As for me

What crime would I commit?

If I raped the moon

Will I resuscitate them?

What pain do your eyes prophesy?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: