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Saturday, July 20, 2019

Abel Iseyen Ancientman redux


On the seventh day
Of the seventh month
In the seventh year of my elopement,
I heard your voice, Africa, calling.
Calling me by my name,
Yes, by the name my mother gave me.

I heard your call,
Not in susurrations,
But very loud and clear;
And I was thunderstruck, your
Voice delivering sweet songs
To my soul,
And your beauty, my heart's garment.

You called, not as a father,
But as a mother would,
With a voice so sweet and tender:
And so passionate that it gave me goosebumps.
And I realized that mother's milk
Is essential for a child,
And that man's first love is his home.

So at your call
I, like the prodigal son
Let go of my vanities
And yearned for my root.

And so I journeyed home -
Through the rainforest which
Had Nightingales singing for me
And the Giant Sequoia shading
My frame.
The crickets and the African-beings
Were not left out - as they made my
Return a memorable one.

Oh, how I have missed you, my Africa!
How I have missed your rustic scent.
Your palm wine still tastes great,
Your garment as porraceous as ever,
And your sons have grown into men!

Pardon the mistake of my youth O dear mother
For your dudgeon is ephemeral,
And your mercies, sempiternal.

Nightingale -- Simona PuikytÄ—

1 comment:

  1. On my first English Sunday after three months in West Africa I heard the Surrey nightingales in full song. Listening to them, my thoughts went back to the time when I had last heard a nightingale singing—in early February, at Enugu, administrative centre for the Eastern Provinces of Nigeria. I had taken advantage of a blank two hours in our heavy programme of committee-work to take my field-glasses and wander out into the scrub beyond my host's garden. A flock of bee-eaters with their graceful flight and brilliant green-and-yellow colouring had alighted on a tree; a guinea-fowl had flown off explosively; I had seen a beautiful but still unidentified bird, all dark purple above and white below; and then suddenly from a thicket came the song of a nightingale, only a snatch and not at full force, but unmistakable. I waited and was rewarded by hearing it twice more. I looked the matter up in Bannerman's great work, The Birds of West Africa (which, in an agreeable British way, we have made an official issue to all administrative centres above a certain grade) and found that up till less than 20 years ago the orthodox view was that nightingales never sang in their African winter quarters, but that since then indisputable proof had accumulated that they did so. And two days later the evidence of my ears was confirmed by an official who had frequently heard nightingales in the neighbouring district of Awka, on one occasion, five singing simultaneously.

    -- Julian Huxley, "African Nightingale"