Mozambique: Sapphic Ode | Campos Oliveira

If from your eyes temptingly, lively looking,
a tender glance over my way were sent me,
you would touch my bosom and dull the pain that’s
fervently burning!

If upon your carmine and perfumed lips there’s
found a kind smile lovingly formed for me then
all the tears I sorrowing shed would soon be
over and done with!

If allowed to kiss your sweet lovely face where
always shines bright innocence smiling shyly,
then perhaps I’d feel my own soul reviving
black now and freezing!

If your love you’d finally given to me,
love for which I never would trade a scepter
happy I would be for I’d found in living
fortune celestial!

 
Jose Pedro da Silva Campos e Oliveira (Campos Oliveira) (1847-1911) was born in Cabaceira, Mozambique. He studied law in Goa, India and is regarded as the ‘first’ Mozambican poet of Portuguese expression from the nineteenth century. He served as the nation’s director of postal service and in 1888 published a collection of previously unknown verses by the great eighteenth century poet, Tomas Antonuo Gonzaga.

 

The Sapphic ode is a poetic form with a specific strophic pattern and meter named for the Greek poetess, Sappho, who wrote around 600 B.C. The pattern consists of three verses of eleven syllables or hendecasyllables, each containing five feet.

Culled from: Poets of Mozambique (2005), Translated by Frederick G. Williams.

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on FacebookTwitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.

Algeria: Prison Bestiaries | Jean Senac

I love you that’s true I love you that’s false
crows on my tongue
wage war with swallows
we’ve got blackness inside our backs

But if one day the beloved
or the beauty comes along
we find our spinning tops again
sunlight scars the water

All around the air thins
we throw a shovel
of earth on the thighs
the ivy comes into focus

Migratory pleasures
you bequeath to the heart
decaying nymphs
and we go on living
gropingly under the waves
like crayfish

I love you
for you I write poems
to stop thinking
drunk on images
I invent margins
to prolong you

If I had at least
your name to speak
o my unknown my madwoman of the streets
honored in my veins
like a king by his empire

My needle of gold missing in the hay!

 

 

JEAN SÉNAC (1926-1973) was an Algerian poet who wrote about the fight for Algerian independence in French. This poem was translated from French by Justin Vicari.

 

The African Book Review is posting a poem from each of Africa’s 55 countries over the next few weeks. Poem suggestions can be sent through the comments form below. ‘Like’ us on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr to read all the poems.