Art

C’est le Souffle des Ancêtres

SOUFFLE DE BIRAGO DIOP
Ecoute plus souvent
Les Choses que les Etres
La Voix du Feu s’entend,
Entends la Voix de l’Eau.
Ecoute dans le Vent
Le Buisson en sanglots :
C’est le Souffle des ancêtres.
Ceux qui sont morts ne sont jamais partis :
Ils sont dans l’Ombre qui s’éclaire
Et dans l’ombre qui s’épaissit.
Les Morts ne sont pas sous la Terre :
Ils sont dans l’Arbre qui frémit,
Ils sont dans le Bois qui gémit,
Ils sont dans l’Eau qui coule,
Ils sont dans l’Eau qui dort,
Ils sont dans la Case, ils sont dans la Foule :
Les Morts ne sont pas morts.
Ecoute plus souvent
Les Choses que les Etres
La Voix du Feu s’entend,
Entends la Voix de l’Eau.
Ecoute dans le Vent
Le Buisson en sanglots :
C’est le Souffle des Ancêtres morts,
Qui ne sont pas partis
Qui ne sont pas sous la Terre
Qui ne sont pas morts.
Ceux qui sont morts ne sont jamais partis :
Ils sont dans le Sein de la Femme,
Ils sont dans l’Enfant qui vagit
Et dans le Tison qui s’enflamme.
Les Morts ne sont pas sous la Terre :
Ils sont dans le Feu qui s’éteint,
Ils sont dans les Herbes qui pleurent,
Ils sont dans le Rocher qui geint,
Ils sont dans la Forêt, ils sont dans la Demeure,
Les Morts ne sont pas morts.
Ecoute plus souvent
Les Choses que les Etres
La Voix du Feu s’entend,
Entends la Voix de l’Eau.
Ecoute dans le Vent
Le Buisson en sanglots,
C’est le Souffle des Ancêtres.
Il redit chaque jour le Pacte,
Le grand Pacte qui lie,
Qui lie à la Loi notre Sort,
Aux Actes des Souffles plus forts
Le Sort de nos Morts qui ne sont pas morts,
Le lourd Pacte qui nous lie à la Vie.
La lourde Loi qui nous lie aux Actes
Des Souffles qui se meurent
Dans le lit et sur les rives du Fleuve,
Des Souffles qui se meuvent
Dans le Rocher qui geint et dans l’Herbe qui pleure.
Des Souffles qui demeurent
Dans l’Ombre qui s’éclaire et s’épaissit,
Dans l’Arbre qui frémit, dans le Bois qui gémit
Et dans l’Eau qui coule et dans l’Eau qui dort,
Des Souffles plus forts qui ont pris
Le Souffle des Morts qui ne sont pas morts,
Des Morts qui ne sont pas partis,
Des Morts qui ne sont plus sous la Terre.
Ecoute plus souvent
Les Choses que les Etres
La Voix du Feu s’entend,
Entends la Voix de l’Eau.
Ecoute dans le Vent
Le Buisson en sanglots,
C’est le Souffle des Ancêtres

BIRAGO DIOP
“Spirits”
“Listen to Things
More often than Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the sighs of the bush;
This is the ancestors breathing.
Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the darkness that grows lighter
And in the darkness that grows darker.
The dead are not down in the earth;
They are in the trembling of the trees
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs,
In the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd:
The dead are not dead.
Listen to things
More often than beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the bush that is sighing:
This is the breathing of ancestors,
Who have not gone away
Who are not under earth
Who are not really dead.
Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in a woman’s breast,
In the wailing of a child,
And the burning of a log,
In the moaning rock,
In the weeping grasses,
In the forest and the home.
The dead are not dead.
Listen more often
To Things than to Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind to
The bush that is sobbing:
This is the ancestors breathing.
Each day they renew ancient bonds,
Ancient bonds that hold fast
Binding our lot to their law,
To the will of the spirits stronger than we
To the spell of our dead who are not really dead,
Whose covenant binds us to life,
Whose authority binds to their will,
The will of the spirits that stir
In the bed of the river, on the banks of the river,
The breathing of spirits
Who moan in the rocks and weep in the grasses.
Spirits inhabit
The darkness that lightens, the darkness that darkens,
The quivering tree, the murmuring wood,
The water that runs and the water that sleeps:
Spirits much stronger than we,
The breathing of the dead who are not really dead,
Of the dead who are not really gone,
Of the dead now no more in the earth.
Listen to Things
More often than Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the bush that is sobbing:
This is the ancestors, breathing.”
–Birago Diop

Sense8

Sense8 is one of the best TV series that I’ve seen. All 12 episodes were released by Netflix at the same time and I saw them all over 3 days. It’s a science fiction story that has resonances with X-Men, Alphas and Heroes in that it centres around a group of people who are either the next step in human evolution or else a parallel development. At any rate we have 8 young people who were born at the same time and whose emphatic or telepathic connection has been triggered by the death of a psychic mother figure. Apart from the plot, which involves evading an evil nemesis who wants to control them, the story is about the relationships between the members of this group that is diverse in ethnicity and sexuality. They have the ability to be, psychically, in the same place as another group member or ‘sense8’ even though there are physically in different parts of the world. At times the story feels like a metaphor about and a meditation on connectedness and individuality. The theme of connectedness is not confined to the relationships between the ‘Sense8’s’; each Sense8 is dealing with a connection with a mother, father, lover, friend, family that defines his or her identity.

The series is beautifully filmed in locations across the world, including London. For all its emphasis on relationships, action is not neglected and there are enough fight and flight sequences to spice the story. These 12 episodes had the feel of an ‘origin’ story and I look forward to another series. Best thing though is the invitation that the story offers for us to think about our own connectedness with others and about our individuality.

Kate Tempest’s Cannibal Kids

Kate Tempest’s brilliant rap poem reminds us that the roots of ‘youth violence’ lies in the violence of a world made by the establishment and the powerful. The poem does not excuse the violence of the ‘cannibal kids’ but points out that their spiritual stepfathers are the cannibal capitalists who maintain the structure of violence.

I couldn’t find a transcription anywhere on the web so I transcribed it myself. There were a couple of bits I didn’t hear properly so I put [?] question marks in those places.

‘Round here, these cannibal kids want to be kings
But there ain’t no royalty left
‘Cause round here the sirens and screams float on the wind
and even the street shudders afraid of our footsteps
‘Round here, these cannibal kids want to be kings
But there ain’t no royalty left
‘Cause round here the sirens and screams float on the wind
and even the street shudders yes even the street shudders
‘Round here, these cannibal kids want to be kings
They don’t know that kindness is courage
Or that sympathy sings much louder than violence
They are bitter and drained. Eyes of ice stare from figures of flames
They, puff chested, restless, nameless, they carry their pains
To the point ob being painless; these numb ones, young ones
The new latchkeys of London just soaking up that humdrum
That makes them want to run from the state they’re in
Powerless, penniless, feathers clipped
They find eagle’s wings in the derelict brotherhood of gang life
That bang bang life that shouts louder than a sarcastic teacher clapping hands twice
And staring down a frightened nose
See, they learned that respect comes from striking a pose that demands it
But I know respect and fear are not compatible
But they’s a long way from bat and ball
They don’t play they let daggers fall
From blood-soaked fingers while their siblings lie bleeding in hallways dead.
But like wisdom has always said, blood begets blood
And keeps spilling so the pavements are stained and our hearts are grief-stricken.
‘Cause ’round here, these cannibal kids want to be kings. But there ain’t no royalty left

No, ’cause round here the sirens and screams float on the wind
and even the street shudders yes even the street shudders
While that paranoid panic that goes seeping through the granite of the breeze blocks
Is turning our cities into sheep flocks
See me have pity those whose knees knock
The victims of the media machine, them poor souls who’ve forgotten how to dream
See, see that cut-throat mentality, that gets encourages in business
They tell you, to be a success you gotta step on some necks
So big money is made through that ruthless pursuit and while they [?]
Their jaded kids [?]
Now we were born into these blood-soaked cities of industry
Informed of the savagery, the infamy, barbarity of history.
Controlled and contrived and depressed and tested and stressed out and vexed
It’s a message we’ve been fed so we could propagate their system of division, inhibition, viciousness and contradiction
We were suckled on the milk that they soured
Told the future was ours and them disembowelled and dis-empowered
We’ve been disgraced, deafened and deflowered
Our brains brutalised and all the fires devoured
So now they’re shooting guns and robbing cash and trying to claw it all back
But when the whole thing shatters it always starts with a little crack
And them splinters, they stretch out for miles
Pointing fingers at smart dressed men with wry crocodile smiles
But still we get the blame
Told that life is all exchange told that we are the children of capital
That we are the children of apathy, that we the children of this rapidly changing reality
But I say, we learn it from them, from their rules and their ways
For their legitimate businesses deceive, and disgrace
While us, we do what we can because we live in this place
Where the truth can’t be seen in the face.

Addendum: Having done that I’ve just found a proper transcription on the web .. a pdf that include some of Kate’s other poems. Much recommended: h Having done that I’ve just found a proper transcription on the web .. a pdf that include some of Kate’s other poems. Much recommended:

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