France Noire

There, where adventure keeps a clean eye
there where women shimmer with language
there where death is beautiful in the hand like a milk season bird
there where on bended knee the underground gathers a wealth
of sloes more violent than caterpillars
there where for nimble wonder anything goes
there where vigorous night bleeds the speed of true vegetables
there where bees of stars sting a hive’s sky brighter than night
there where my heel sound fills space and counts down the
removal of the face of time
there where my word’s rainbow must bring together tomorrow
and hope, infant and queen.

For having insulted my masters bitten the sultan’s soldiers
for having moaned in the wilderness
for having called out to my guards
for having appealed to jackals and hyenas shepherds of caravans.

I watch
the wild horse of smoke hurry on the stage hem for an instant
the lava of its fragile

peacock’s tail, then tearing off its shirt suddenly split its chest
and I watch it as

the British Isles as islets as broken rocks melting bit by bit into
the lucid sea of the air
where bathe ominously
my face
my revolt
my name.

—Aimé Césaire