Et le soleil boule de feu, déclive sur la mer vermeille.

Here is a very African love poem from Leopold Senghor, who was for many years President of Senegal. Anybody who has walked near the villages of Senegal around Dakar, perhaps down the coast at Mbour or Rufisque, or near Lac Rose, will recognise the sensations of the sun beating down, the slim and elegant pirogues going out on the water in search of fish, the strong smells and happy jostle of the village folk. And all this reminds Senghor of his love.

Et le soleil

Léopold Sédar SENGHOR
Recueil : “Lettres d’hivernage”

Et le soleil boule de feu, déclive sur la mer vermeille.
Au bord de la brousse et de l’abîme, je m’égare dans
le dédale du sentier.
Elle me suit, cette senteur haute altière qui irrite mes
Délicieusement. Elle me suit et tu me suis, mon double.
Le soleil plonge dans l’angoisse
Dans un foisonnement de lumières, dans un tressaillement
de couleurs de cris de colères.
Une pirogue, fine comme une aiguille dans une mer
immense étale
Un rameur et son double.
Saignent les grès du cap de Nase quand s’allume le
phare des Mamelles
Au loin. Le chagrin tel me point à ta pensée.
Je pense à toi quand je marche je nage
Assis ou debout, je pense à toi le matin et le soir
La nuit quand je pleure, eh oui quand je ris
Quand je parle je me parle et quand je me tais
Dans mes joies et mes peines. Quand je pense et ne
pense pas
Chère je pense à toi !

From <;

The poem continually conjures up the inebriating accumulation of sensations you can easily feel on a hot day in west Africa, the heat, the smells and the sounds, the colours and the very physical sense of the environment. The omnipresence of sensory stimulation is carried through to the omnipresence of the poet’s thoughts about his lover, whether he is laughing or crying, night or morning, in joy or sorrow. By comparison with the force of the sensations from his everyday surroundings, the love must indeed be strong to remain present in his mind.

This poem brings me back a nostalgia for Senegal, where I used to visit 25 years ago, often driving down the coast or into the interior from Dakar, perhaps as far as Tambacounda. Happy days…

The Poetry Dude


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