Poetry Friday

by zunguzungu

“Death in the Dawn,” by Wole Soyinka

“Driving to Lagos one morning a white cockerel flew out of the dusk and smashed itself against my windscreen. A mile further I came across a motor accident and a freshly dead man in the smash.”

Traveller, you must set out
At dawn. And wipe your feet upon
The dog-nose wetness of earth.

Let sunrise quench your lamps, and watch
Faint brush pricklings in the sky light
Cottoned feet to break the early earthworm
On the hoe. Now shadows stretch with sap
Not twighlight’s death and sad prostration

This soft kindling, soft receding breeds
Racing joys and apprehensions for
A naked day, burdened hulks retract,
Stoop to the mist in faceless throng
To wake the silent markets – swift, mute
Processions on grey byways…

On this
Counterpane, it was –
Sudden winter at the death
Of dawn’s lone trumpeter, cascades
Of white feather-flakes, but it proved
A futile rite. Propition sped
Grimly on, before.
The right foot for joy, the left, dread
And the mother prayed, Child
May you never walk
When the road waits, famished.

Traveller you must set forth
At dawn.
I promise marvels of the holy hour
Presages as the white cock’s flapped
Perverse impalement – as who would dare
The wrathful wings of man’s Progression…

But such another Wraith! Brother,
Silenced in the startled hug of
Your invention — is theis mocked grimace
This closed contortion – I?

In case you’re interested, here’s a link to a post I wrote (sort of) about this poem, back when I was in TZ and was trying to get someone to type it up and send it to me (but nobody did, bunch of jerks)