Wole Soyinka Poems

Hit Title Date Added
1.
Telephone Conversation

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
...

2.
Night

Your hand is heavy, Night, upon my brow.
I bear no heart mercuric like the clouds,
to dare.
...

3.
Procession I - Hanging Day

Hanging day.
A hollow earth
Echoes footsteps of the grave procession.
Walls in sunspots
Lean to shadow of the shortening morn.
...

4.
Dedication From Moremi

Earth will not share the rafter's envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko's slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life
...

5.
Civilian And Soldier

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, 'I am a civilian.' It only served
To aggravate your fright. For how could I
...

6.
I Think It Rains

I think it rains
That tongues may loosen from the parch
Uncleave roof-tops of
the mouth, hang
Heavy with knowledge
...

7.
IN THE SMALL HOURS

Blue diaphane, tobacco smoke
Serpentine on wet film and wood glaze,
Mutes chrome, wreathes velvet drapes,
Dims the cave of mirrors. Ghost fingers
Comb seaweed hair, stroke acquamarine veins
Of marooned mariners, captives
Of Circe's sultry notes. The barman
Dispenses igneous potions ?
Somnabulist, the band plays on.

Cocktail mixer, silvery fish
Dances for limpet clients.
Applause is steeped in lassitude,
Tangled in webs of lovers' whispers
And artful eyelash of the androgynous.
The hovering notes caress the night
Mellowed deep indigo ?still they play.

Departures linger. Absences do not
Deplete the tavern. They hang over the haze
As exhalations from receded shores. Soon,
Night repossesses the silence, but till dawn
The notes hold sway, smoky
Epiphanies, possessive of the hours.

This music's plaint forgives, redeems
The deafness of the world. Night turns
Homewards, sheathed in notes of solace, pleats
The broken silence of the heart.
...

8.
Procession I - Hanging Day

A hollow earth
Echoes footsteps of the grave procession.
Walls in sunspots
Lean to shadow of the shortening morn.
...

9.
Dedication

for Moremi, 1963

Earth will not share the rafter's envy; dung floors
Break, not the gecko's slight skin, but its fall
Taste this soil for death and plumb her deep for life

As this yam, wholly earthed, yet a living tuber
To the warmth of waters, earthed as springs
As roots of baobab, as the hearth.

The air will not deny you. Like a top
Spin you on the navel of the storm, for the hoe
That roots the forests plows a path for squirrels.

Be ageless as dark peat, but only that rain's
Fingers, not the feet of men, may wash you over.
Long wear the sun's shadow; run naked to the night.

Peppers green and red—child—your tongue arch
To scorpion tail, spit straight return to danger's threats
Yet coo with the brown pigeon, tendril dew between your lips.

Shield you like the flesh of palms, skyward held
Cuspids in thorn nesting, insealed as the heart of kernel—
A woman's flesh is oil—child, palm oil on your tongue

Is suppleness to life, and wine of this gourd
From self-same timeless run of runnels as refill
Your podlings, child, weaned from yours we embrace

Earth's honeyed milk, wine of the only rib.
Now roll your tongue in honey till your cheeks are
Swarming honeycombs—your world needs sweetening, child.

Camwood round the heart, chalk for flight
Of blemish—see? it dawns!—antimony beneath
Armpits like a goddess, and leave this taste

Long on your lips, of salt, that you may seek
None from tears. This, rain-water, is the gift
Of gods—drink of its purity, bear fruits in season.

Fruits then to your lips: haste to repay
The debt of birth. Yield man-tides like the sea
And ebbing, leave a meaning of the fossilled sands.
...