Magazine article World Literature Today

As Long as Trees Take Root in the Earth

Magazine article World Literature Today

As Long as Trees Take Root in the Earth

Article excerpt

To honor Mabanckou on the occasion of

his visit to the University of Oklahoma, six

graduate students from OU's Department

of Modern Languages, Literatures, and

Linguistics-Alex Stewart, Christine Tomte,

Fabrice Conte, Hannah Johnson, Hichame

Naciri, and Rokiatou Soumaré-translated

Mabanckou's 2003 poem, "Tant que les

arbres s'enracineront dans la terre." The

following stanzas conclude the poem.

Here comes the reign of men draped in lies

a new Sisyphus mired in resentment

just like apocalyptic beetles

condemned to roll shit as far away as the

next bank

now we find that a wicked word marked

by its harmful seed

grows on the innocence of our future

watch out by the light of dawn

for the fatal moment when masks will fall

and we will see colonies of hares

ears erected

false prophets summon Diop

who remains to be read

false prophets summon Fanon

who remains to be read

false prophets summon Césaire

who remains to be read

but here is the grand mountain

proud of her height

here is the mountain of the soul,

that silent caretaker of immensity

here is the mountain that has remained

silent for centuries

it only asks for a bit of blue sky

an always-green grass

morning dew

a herd grazing

birds of all species singing

let's ask the stone where to find Truth

it will tell us that it is in this world

and here only

it is in this world where wind blows

where oceans twist and turn

where waterways split

it is in this world where a dream steps

over borders

perforates invisible walls

since the dawn of time

mankind has thought of itself as the superior

species

while all day long the tree laughs

take from earth's depth

the nectar of its wisdom

swing its branches to signal victory

to remain human until the end

as long as trees take root in the earth

Translation from the French

By Rokiatou Soumaré

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