Je veux assoupir ton cafard, mon amour

This poem is by Leopold Sedar Senghor, who was President of the west African country of Senegal in the years following independence from France. He may be the only modern example of a head of state who was also a first rate poet. Wouldn’t it be great if more leading statesmen and politicians embraced poetry, the world would likely be a better place. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Senegal has been one of the most stable and prosperous countries in West Africa over the past 30 years or so.

This poem is called Spleen, which translates as something like Blues. Baudelaire wrote a number of poems around the theme of Spleen, so the title links back to a French poetic tradition, but it also connects it to the Blues as a powerful, universal music and art form.

Read and enjoy…

Spleen 

Je veux assoupir ton cafard, mon amour,
Et l’endormir,
Te murmurer ce vieil air de blues
Pour l’endormir.

C’est un blues mélancolique,
Un blues nostalgique,
Un blues indolent
Et lent.

Ce sont les regards des vierges couleur d’ailleurs,
L’indolence dolente des crépuscules.
C’est la savane pleurant au clair de lune,
Je dis le long solo d’une longue mélopée.

C’est un blues mélancolique,
Un blues nostalgique,
Un blues indolent
Et lent.
Léopold Sédar SENGHOR
From <http://marcmetzmoselle.eklablog.com/spleen-poeme-de-leopold-sedar-senghor-a86873177&gt;

The poem describes the poet wanting to comfort and console his lover, who is depressed, by humming or singing an old blues tune, to bring her the healing power of music and song. The slow, lazy, nostalgic melancholy of the blues will echo her mood but also take her out of it and bring her to a place of comfort and consolation. The poem reminds us that Africa has a place at the heat of the blues, ” C’est la savane pleurant au clair de lune”, but the use of the word blues throughout the poem signals a more universal significance – this is a music for all , and our lives will have more contentment if we slow down and let the blues music into our soul.

A beautiful poem from a remarkable man.

The Poetry Dude

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