Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Poem: Wole Soyinka

I'm traveling for the next week or so (I'll say more soon), and thus I'll be posting poems perhaps more sporadically than less, and if so, probably without commentary (depending upon my Internet access), so let me try to get a few up before I'm off for a while. Here's a poem by Wole Soyinka, the great Nigerian author and Nobel laureate, known best for his plays and fiction, but who is also a remarkable poet. The following poem really needs no introduction at all.


Blue diaphane, tobacco smoke
Serpentine on wet film and wood glaze,
Mutes chrome, wreathes velvet drapes,
Dims the cave of mirrors. Ghost fingers
Comb seaweed hair, stroke acquamarine veins
Of marooned mariners, captives
Of Circe's sultry notes. The barman
Dispenses igneous potions ?
Somnabulist, the band plays on.

Cocktail mixer, silvery fish
Dances for limpet clients.
Applause is steeped in lassitude,
Tangled in webs of lovers' whispers
And artful eyelash of the androgynous.
The hovering notes caress the night
Mellowed deep indigo ?still they play.

Departures linger. Absences do not
Deplete the tavern. They hang over the haze
As exhalations from receded shores. Soon,
Night repossesses the silence, but till dawn
The notes hold sway, smoky
Epiphanies, possessive of the hours.

This music's plaint forgives, redeems
The deafness of the world. Night turns
Homewards, sheathed in notes of solace, pleats
The broken silence of the heart.

Copyright © Wole Soyinka, 2009, all rights reserved.

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