the striped fawn of my dream

Léopold Sédar Senghor, poet-president of Senegal, whom we’ve mentioned briefly before. From Song of the Initiate

She flees, she flees through the white flat land, while I take
Careful aim, giddy with desire. Is she in the bush of games,
Passions of thorns and thickets? Then shall I force her
To the chains of time, inhaling the sweet breath of her flanks
Of speckled shadows, and at stupefying High Noon shall I
Twist her fragile arms. The antelope’s rattle will intoxicate me
Life fresh palm wine and I shall drink for a long time
The wild blood that rises from her heart, the bloody milk
That flows to her mouth, the scent of the wet earth.


I have to hold back my blood at the end of its long cinnabar leash,
The son of Man, son of Lion, who roars in the hollow hills
Setting fire to a hundred villages with his male harmattan voice.

I will go leaping above the hills, defying the fear of wind
And steppes, defying the river-seas where virgin bodies drown
In the depth of their anguish. Then I will climb back up the sweet belly
Of dunes and the gleaming thighs of the day, up to the dark throat
Where a quick blow kills the striped fawn of my dream.

I like those big and distant but compelling Song of Songs-type comparisons that we don’t seem to use today (as in: “thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Mount Gilead.Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.” More examples here.)

(I just got J.D. McClatchy’s “Vintage Book of Contemporary World Poetry” in the mail.)

2 thoughts on “the striped fawn of my dream

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