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Birago Diop’s Vanity Essay

Birago Diop: He was born in 1906 at Dakar, Senegal. He was educated in Senegal and in France where in qualifed in veterinary surgeon. VANITY is one of his many poems he used in expressing the presence of the ancestor.


If we tell, gently, gently
All that we shall one day have to tell,
Who then will hear our voices without laughter,
Sad complaining voices of beggars
Who indeed will hear them without laughter?

If we roughly of our torments
Ever increasing from the start of things
What eyes will watch our large mouths
Shaped by the laughter of big children
What eyes will watch our large mouth?

What hearts will listen to our clamoring?
What ear to our pitiful anger
Which grows in us like a tumor
In the black depth of our plaintive throats?

When our Dead comes with their Dead
When they have spoken to us in their clumsy voices;
Just as our ears were deaf
To their cries, to their wild appeals
Just as our ears were deaf

They have left on the earth their cries,
In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs For us blind deaf and unworthy Sons
Who see nothing of what they have made
In the air, on the water, where they have traced their signs

And since we did not understand the dead
Since we have never listen to their cries
If we weep, gently, gently
If we cry roughly to our torments
What heart will listen to our clamoring,
What ear to our sobbing hearts?

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