Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian poet’

A poem by Debebe Seifu

June 9, 2012 2 comments

Debebe Seifu (1950-2000), the late Ethiopian poet and academician, wrote poems exploring topics ranging from struggles of the working class to the great imponderable such as beauty and truth. A warrior for truth, Debebe’s poems ring with a remarkable sincerity. His major themes were the creative impulse, power dynamics, greater self-awareness, and the clash between the artist and the values of a philistine society. Debebe, who studied English literature at the Addis Ababa University at Master’s level, taught at the same university — all the while balancing his academic life with his writing. He wrote most of his poems in Amharic and he translated a couple of them into English, though they remained unpublished. Here is one of his poems entitled, “We are now writing dirges”.
The fire blazing
Its tongue flowering
Called on us
To wrap ourselves
With its flaming scarves
But you and me
Warmth-proof that we were
Began to write dirges
With left-over cinders
On a tablet
Of tear-gray ashes

‘Tekemechie’ by Yohannes Admasu

September 2, 2011 5 comments

It’s Friday, as good a day as any for an incisive Amharic poem by Yohannes Admasu (1927-1975) about a man interrupted during the act of contemplation. He is sitting in a contemplative mood in a solitary room, listening to sad and melancholic music. A cigarette between his fingers, the smoke has become his companion, so he says. The music and the smoke set him in a mood to release his inner feelings, the echoes of the heart. The following lines convey cloudiness with references to blood and poison. While in the middle of that inner search, there came an unwelcome knock at the door. The beauty of the smoke and the rhythm of the music are brought to a standstill. I liked the poem because of the way it evokes the man’s inner search and celebrates contemplation, silence, solitude.