Aimé Césaire would have been 99 today. Here is his poem “Mississipi” (Césaire intentionally used the seventeenth century French spelling of “Mississipi”).
By Aimé Césaire (translated from the French by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman, April 1, 2010)
Too bad for you men who don’t notice that my eyes remember
slings and black flags
which murder with each blink of my Mississipi lashes
Too bad for you men who do not see who do not see anything
not even the gorgeous railway signals formed under my eyelids by the black and red discs
of the coral snake that my munificence coils in my Mississipi tears
Too bad for you men who do not see that in the depth of the reticule where chance has
deposited our Mississipi eyes
there waits a buffalo sunk to the very hilt of the swamp’s eyes
Too bad for you men who do not see that you cannot stop me from building to his fill
egg-headed islands of flagrant sky
under the calm ferocity of the immense geranium of our sun.