Friday, March 26, 2010

Black Woman.

Before I begin my post, isn't Alek Wek (pictured) gorgeous?

I love poetry. While I've always wanted to be a writer, I am typically too long winded for what people consider "poetry" to be. I used to perform (and did so on one occasion at an event with one of my poetess idols Queen Sheba when I was 14..and maaaaaaad nervous). I love words, I love being able to express myself in words. I love slam poetry, but somehow lost my voice for it along my growing process.

At any rate, I was doing some African history reading (because that's what I do in all of my new-found free time) and I started thinking about one of my all-time favorite poems: "Black Woman" by the former President of Senegal, Leopold Sedar Senghor. I had an ex-crazy-boyfriend recite this poem to me and while memories of him make me want to vomit tend to be unpleasant, it's a deep poem.

It was originally written in French, but the English translation is moving.

Naked woman, black woman
Clothed with your colour which is life,
with your form which is beauty!
In your shadow I have grown up; the
gentleness of your hands was laid over my eyes.

And now, high up on the sun-baked
pass, at the heart of summer, at the heart of noon,
I come upon you, my Promised Land,
And your beauty strikes me to the heart
like the flash of an eagle.

Naked woman, dark woman
Firm-fleshed ripe fruit, sombre raptures
of black wine, mouth making lyrical my mouth
Savannah stretching to clear horizons,
savannah shuddering beneath the East Wind's
eager caresses

Carved tom-tom, taut tom-tom, muttering
under the Conqueror's fingers
Your solemn contralto voice is the
spiritual song of the Beloved.

Naked woman, dark woman
Oil that no breath ruffles, calm oil on the
athlete's flanks, on the flanks of the Princes of Mali
Gazelle limbed in Paradise, pearls are stars on the
night of your skin

Delights of the mind, the glinting of red
gold against your watered skin
Under the shadow of your hair, my care
is lightened by the neighbouring suns of your eyes.

Naked woman, black woman,
I sing your beauty that passes, the form
that I fix in the Eternal,
Before jealous fate turn you to ashes to
feed the roots of life.


  1. Alek is cool; in fact, I'm from London and I met and got to know Alek before she was famous. I recognised she was a Dinka tribes woman from the off and boy, was she impressed!

    menelik charles
    london england

  2. That's awesome! Lucky...thanks for reading :)