‘Antsa’ by Jacques Rabemananjara

rabemananjara
Jacques Rabemananjara (Project for Innovative Poetry – PIP)

Today, we will join the poet Jacques Rabemananjara in singing the praises of the Great Island… you know the one and only, Madagascar! Published in 1956 in Présence Africaine, Antsa is an ode to the Great island, a love song to Rabemananjara’s land of birth, Madagascar. Jacques Rabemananjara, like Léon Gontran Damas, was also part of the Negritude movement in France; he was said to be the most prolific writer of the negritude generation after Léopold Sédar Senghor, and he had the first négritude poetry published. He was a Malagasy politician, playwright and poet, who served as a government minister,  and later rose to the rank of Vice President of Madagascar under Philibert Tsiranana. He was one of the heroes of the Malagasy independence.

 

Madagascar
Madagascar

As you read Antsa, enjoy the island of syllables of flame, feel the love, the sweetness sweeter than honey, the patriotism expressed like the most ardent lover, the most faithful, feel the oneness with the homeland as no owl’s cry or burning could disturb the love the author feels for his motherland. Enjoy it, and try expressing it for the land of your birth… not the people… the land and its beauty!

 

Antsa par Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Ile !

Ile aux syllabes de flammes !

Jamais ton nom

Ne  fut plus cher à mon âme !

Ile,

Ne fut plus doux à mon cœur !

Ile aux syllabes de flamme,

Madagascar !

 

Quelle résonnance !

Les  mots

fondent dans ma bouche :

Le miel des claires saisons

Dans le mystère de tes sylves,

Madagascar !

 

Je mords la chair vierge et rouge

Avec l’âpre ferveur

Du mourant aux dents de lumière

Madagascar !

 

Un viatique d’innocence

dans mes entrailles d’affamé,

Je m’allongerai sur ton sein avec la fouge

du plus ardent de tes amants,

du plus fidèle,

Madagascar !

 

Qu’importent le hululement des chouettes

le vol rasant et bas

des hiboux apeurés sous le faîtage

de la maison incendiée !oh, les renards,

qu’ils lèchent

leur peau puante du sang des poussins, du sang auréolé des flamants-roses !

Nous autres, les hallucinés de l’azur,

nous scrutons  éperdument tout l’infini de bleu de la nue,

Madagascar !

 

Antsa by Jacques Rabemananjara

 

Island!

Island with syllables of flames!

Never your name

Was so dear to my soul!

Island,

So sweet to my heart!

Island with syllables of flames,

Madagascar!

 

Such resonance!

The words

Melt in my mouth:

The honey of clear seasons

In the mystery of your forests,

Madagascar!

 

I bite the virgin and red flesh

With the bitter fervor

Of the dying with bright teeth

Madagascar!

 

A viaticum of innocence

In my guts filled with hunger,

I will lie on your breast with the passion

Of the most ardent of your lovers,

Of the most faithful,

Madagascar!

 

No matter how much the owls hoot,

The low flying and frightened owls under ridge

Or the burning house! Oh the foxes,

May they lick

Their pungent skin from the chicks’ blood, the haloed blood of pink flamingoes!

We, the hallucinated of the azure,

We madly scour the infinite of the blue from the clouds

Madagascar!

 

 

Antsa, 1956, Présence Africaine

Jacques RABEMANANJARA

“Ils sont venus ce soir” / “They Came Tonight” by Leon Gontran Damas

Léon_Damas
Léon-Gontran Damas

They Came Tonight” is a poem by the celebrated French Guyanese author Léon-Gontran Damas. He is renowned as one of the founders of the Négritude movement, along Aimé Césaire and Leopold Senghor. In 1935, the three men published the first issue of the literary review L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student), which provided the foundation for what is now known as the Négritude Movement, a literary and ideological movement of French-speaking black intellectuals, writers, and politicians of the African diaspora during the 1930s, aimed at raising and cultivating “Black consciousness” across Africa and its diaspora; this movement rejected the political, social and moral domination of the West.

Slavery_Ship1
Slaves on board a ship

They Came Tonight” is a poem similar to ‘Ils Sont Venus’ de François Sengat-Kuo / ‘They Came’ by François Sengat-Kuo. In this case, it talks about when the Europeans came during slavery time, one night as the drums were thundering, and after that many Africans were taken away from their homes, from their loved ones, many were captured, and the day was never the same, history was never the same, families were destroyed, kingdoms destroyed, and to this day, Africa has not recovered for 400 years of slavery. This poem was first published in Pigments 1937, and later in Présence africaine, 1962.

 

Ils sont venus ce soir (Pour Léopold-Sedar Senghor)

ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie

des yeux
la frénésie des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues
DEPUIS
combien de MOI MOI MOI
sont morts
depuis qu’ils sont venus ce soir où le
tam
tam
roulait de
rythme en
rythme
la frénésie
des yeux
la frénésie
des mains
la frénésie
des pieds de statues

They Came Tonight
for Léopold-Sedar Senghor

They came the night the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
the frenzy

of eyes
the frenzy of hands
the frenzy
of the feet of statues
SINCE
how many of ME ME ME
are dead
since they came that night when the
drums
spun from
rhythm
to
rhythm
frenzy
of eyes
frenzy
of hands
frenzy
of the feet of statues