Léopold Sédar Senghor
translated, from the French, by Zack Rogow
I’m afraid of the crowd that looks like me with its stone faces.
From my glass tower crowded with migraines and impatient Ancestors
I muse over the rooftops and hills in the mist
In the calm—the chimneys are serious and naked.
At their feet my dead are sleeping; all my dreams deeds—dust
All my dreams, needless blood spilled down the streets, mixing with the blood of butcher shops.
And now, from this observation post, as if from the outskirts of the city
I muse over my dreams walking distractedly down the streets, sleeping at the foot of the hills,
Like the drovers of my race on the banks of the Gambia and the Saloum
And now the Seine, at the foot of the hills.
Let me think about my dead!
Yesterday was All Saints, the Sun’s solemn birthday
And all the cemeteries were empty of memories.
Oh my Dead, who always refused to die, who were able to keep Death at bay
Away from the Sine, away from the Seine, and in my fragile veins, my indomitable blood
Protect my dreams as you protected your migratory sons with their skinny legs.
Oh my dead! defend the Paris rooftops in the Sunday fog
The rooftops that protect my dead.
Let me leave my dangerously safe tower and walk down to the street
With my brothers who have blue eyes
And rough hands.