Chinua Achebe: “Pine Tree in Spring” and “Their Idiot Song”

Norway Spruce_and Maple  tree on the right_Toronto_Canada.

Chinua Achebe

Pine Tree in Spring

(for Léon Damas *)


Pine tree

flag bearer

of green memory

across the breach of a desolate hour


Loyal tree

that stood guard

alone in austere emeraldry

over Nature’s recumbent standard


Pine tree

lost now in the shade

of traitors decked out flamboyantly

marching back unabashed to the colours they betrayed


Fine tree

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.


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