wole-soyinka-bookslive

The Noble Prize organization shared this video on Twitter a few days ago as part of their congratulatory message to Nigeria on its 54th anniversary.

It’s a video of Soyinka reading “Lost Poems.” The poem is in his 2002 poetry collection titled Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known. I strongly recommend the collection to anyone interested in Soyinka’s more recent poetic work.

The text of the poem is printed below so feel free to follow Soyinka as he reads.

Lost Poems

I think sometimes of poems I have lost —
Maybe their loss it was that saved the world — still
They do get lost, and I recall them only
When a fragment levitates behind
Discarded invoices, the black-rimmed notice
Of a last goodbye, a birth, a wedding invitation
And other milestones of a lesser kind.

The moment torments — why? Beyond
An instant’s passion, dubious flash —
Satori in a bar, taxi or restaurant, an airport
Waiting lounge — that births the scribble
On a stained napkin, what cast of the ephemeral
Once resonates, then spurns the mind
The morning after? All that survives

Mimics a wrinkled petal pressed
Between pages of long-discarded books.
A falling leaf trapped briefly by the passing sun
It flashes, a mere shard of memory
But filled with wistful accusations
Of abandonment. Too late,

No life to it. The book is closed
The moment’s exultation or despair
Drowned in wine rivers, shrivelled
In suns of great wars. I turn
These scrapbooks of a moment’s truth
To cinders, their curlings curse in smoke —
Once more fugitive beyond recall
Of usurper’s summons by
The morning after.

I think of voices I have lost, and touches,
The fleeting brush of eyes that burrows
Deep within the heart of need, the pledge
Unspoken, the more than acts of faith
That forge an instant world in silent pact
With strangers — deeper, deeper bonds
Than the dearest love’s embrace.

 

*****************

Post image by Victor Dlamini for Books LIVE via Flickr

Tags: , , , , , ,

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

One Response to ““I Think of Poems I Have Lost” | Watch Soyinka Read “Lost Poems”” Subscribe

  1. Famous Isaacs 2014/10/07 at 00:32 #

    thanks for sharing this

Leave a Reply

I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Archives

Departure | Three Poems by Romeo Oriogun

14808778703_3587b5e3cc_o

i was born with a graveyard. – Safia Elhillo. Departure i do know about the hate that sinks a name […]

What It Means to Feel Adrift | By Arinze Ifeakandu | Memoir

FullSizeRender

1. Your friends are suddenly too far away, your family even farther. You feel a loneliness that gnaws, a disconnection […]

Dinaw Mengestu, Chinelo Okparanta and Yaa Gyasi Listed among Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists

InstaBox_2017428132951654

Granta has released its prestigious once-in-a-decade Best of Young American Novelists list and it includes Ethiopia’s Dinaw Mengestu, Nigeria’s Chinelo […]

Bessie Head’s Letters: the Pain, the Beauty, the Humor

head (1)

“Forgive the vanity, but few people equal my letter-writing ability!!” writes Bessie Head on March 14, 197o to her friend […]

Is Tram 83 Misogynist Poverty Porn? Petina Gappah, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Ainehi Edoro Deepen Conversation as Ikhide Ikheloa and Richard Oduku Publish New Essays

tram 83

Two days ago, we covered an important conversation that had started on Facebook in reaction to Ikhide Ikheloa’s essay in […]

A Letter of Secrets | By Nwanne Agwu | Fiction

11893775_10207320117223894_2273125653442773633_o

On the streets of Lagos, a boy searches for himself in mirrors. — Romeo Oriogun. Saturday, 01 April, 2017 Dear […]