Sunday, January 31, 2010

Langston Hughes & Marcelo Veiga: São Tomé e Príncipe

Marcelo da Veiga (1892-1976) wrote for 6 decades, his themes dealing mostly with national identity. The humiliation that the black man suffered was already denounced in his early poems like Africa é Nossa!, Africa is Ours! One of the most important facets of his writings deal with historical figures of S. Tomé, a real and imaginary past where he found the source of his land's pride. The irony that permeates his anti-colonial poetry is a powerful tool to face the inner demons of a man who lived most of his life in Portugal but kept his heart in S. Tomé.

Marcelo Veiga

On an island at the equator Where palm trees and cocoa grow And the brooks gently flow, Was born a man of dreams An ascetic, a seer, A soul pure and white it seems, A poet chosen by fate for us to hear.
While still a child awakened from sleeping, Like a bird first beating its beautiful wings And beginning to raise its voice to sing, One day he left laughing and without weeping His beautiful island caressed and embellished by the sun.
Alegre was his name; He was destined for honor and fame, He was born to triumph it was said But like the bird that takes off to the skies And after the first trill, falls and dies, Costa Alegre was dead.

by Langston Hughes

It was a long time ago. I have almost forgotten my dream. But it was there then, In front of me, Bright like a sun--My dream. And then the wall rose, Rose slowly, Slowly, Between me and my dream. Rose until it touched the sky--The wall. Shadow. I am black. I lie down in the shadow. No longer the light of my dream before me, Above me. Only the thick wall. Only the shadow. My hands! My dark hands! Break through the wall! Find my dream! Help me to shatter this darkness, To smash this night, To break this shadow Into a thousand lights of sun, Into a thousand whirling dreams Of sun!

by Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird. That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.

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