Chinua Achebe: “Pine Tree in Spring” and “Their Idiot Song”Posted: April 18, 2012
Pine Tree in Spring
(for Léon Damas *)
of green memory
across the breach of a desolate hour
that stood guard
alone in austere emeraldry
over Nature’s recumbent standard
lost now in the shade
of traitors decked out flamboyantly
marching back unabashed to the colours they betrayed
erect and trustworthy
What school can teach me
your silent, stubborn fidelity?
*Léon Damas, 1912-1978, French poet, born in French Guiana (“Guyane”); one of the founders,
along with Léopold Senghor and Aimé Césaire, of the “Négritude” literary and ideological movement
. . .
Their Idiot Song
These fellows, the old pagan said, surely are out of their mind – that old proudly impervious derelict skirted long ago by floodwaters of salvation: Behold the great and gory handiwork of Death displayed for all on dazzling sheets this hour of day its twin nostrils plugged firmly with stoppers of wool and they ask of him: Where is thy sting?
Sing on, good fellows, sing on!
Someday when it is you he decks out on his great iron bed with cotton wool for your breath, his massing odours mocking your pitiful makeshift defences of face powder and township ladies’ lascivious scent, these others roaming yet his roomy chicken coop will be singing and asking still but
YOU by then no longer will be in doubt!
. . .
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930,
of the Igbo People. He is a world-famous poet and writer,
and his first novel, “Things Fall Apart”, is among the most
widely-read books in African literature.
. . . . .