Cape Verde: Postcards from the High Seas (i-v) | Cosino Fortes

I

Crioula, you will tell the guitar
Of the night, and the dawn’s small guitar
That you are a dark-skinned bride
with Lela in Rotterdam

You’ll never sell around the town
From door to door
The thirst for sweet water that slaps
In a tin can

II

In the morning
It snowed on the temples of Europe
The lamp of my hand is a caravel
Among the fjords of Norway

Since yesterday
It’s been raining on the prow
Steel rain that numbs
Our abandoned bones
gnomon of silence without memory

Since yesterday
The ship is the landscape of a blind soul
And your name upon the ocean
the sun in a fruit-tree’s mouth

III

I used to sell Kamoca
On the streets of New York

I’ve played ourin among the girders
Of skyscrapers under construction

In a building in Belfast
Remain the skulls and bones
Of my contemporaries
The blood remains
Alive in the telephones’ nostrils

IV

The ears of the islander heard
The sun-drenched voice in the Olympian throat
Of a pestle in Finland

I saw patricians
clad in togas
Speaking Creole
In vast auditoria

Beyond the Pyrenees
there are blacks and blacks
Immigrants to Germany
in the soup-making countries
the blacks of Europe

 

Corsino Fortes is a poet from Cape Verde who writes in Portuguese. Fortes was born in 1933 in Mindelo on Cape Verde’s São Vicente island. He has worked as a teacher and a lawyer; he served as Cape Verde’s ambassador to Portugal; and he was a judge in Angola.The literal translation of this poem was made by Daniel Hahn. The final translated version of the poem is by Sean O’Brien. Culled from http://www.poetrytranslation.org/.

 

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.

 

Angola: Testamento | Alda Lara

To the youngest prostitute
In the oldest and darkest barrio
I leave my earrings
Cut in crystal, limpid and pure…

And to that forgotten virgin
Girl without tenderness
Dreaming somewhere of a happy story
I leave my white dress
Trimmed with lace…

I leave my old rosary
To that old friend of mine
Who doesn’t believe in God…

And my books, my rosary beads
Of a different suffering
Are for humble folk
Who never learned to read.

As for my crazy poems
Those that echo sincerely
The confusion and sadness in my heart
Those that sing of hope
Where none can be found
Those I give to you my  love…

So that in a moment of peace
When my soul comes from afar
To kiss your eyes
You will go into the night
Accompanied by the moon
To read them to children
That you meet along each street…

 

ALDA LARA (1930- 1962) was an Angolan poet and lusophone writer. Born in southern Angola, she attended the University of Coimbra in Portugal and obtained a degree in medicine. She lived in Portugal for thirteen years, during which time she was an active contributor to Mensagem,  a prominent literary journal published by African students living and studying in Portugal. Read some of her poems in Portuguese here. 

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.