17 April 2008

Au Revoir, Césaire

One of the greats, a giant of diasporan Surrealism, author of one of the masterpiece Cahier D'Un Retour Au Pays Natal (Notebook of a Return to the Native Land), staunch critic of colonialism and a founder of the "Negritude" movement, the poet (and politician) from Martinique, Aimé Césaire passed away today at the age of 94.

Aimé Césaire website (in French)

His page on the Academy of American Poets website

New York Times Review of "The Collected Poetry" translated by Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith

New York Times and International Herald Tribune obituaries

A poem from his 1948 collection (translated as either Beheaded or Decapitated Sun) from The Negritude Poets


Man too bad you don't notice that my eyes
slings and black flags
that murder every time I blink

Man too bad you don't see that you see nothing
not even that beautiful signal-system of the railroad that
under my eyelids makes the red and black disks of the coral-
snake which my munificence coils in my tears

Man too bad you don't see that in the depths of the reticle
where chance has deposited our eyes
there waits a buffalo drowned to the guard of his eyes
of the marsh

Man too bad you don't see that you can't
prevent me from building for his sufficiency
islands to the egg head of flagrant sky
under the calm ferocity of the immense geranium our sun

-- translated by Clayton Eshleman and Denis Kelly

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