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11 septembre 2017 1 11 /09 /septembre /2017 22:53
Prière païenne





Prière païenne
Countee Porter Cullen


Ce n 'est pas pour moi que je fais cette prière,

Mais pour ceux de ma race,

Qui tendent, du fond des ténèbres,

Leurs  mains  noires  pour réclamer du pain et du vin.


Moi, mon cœur est un païen insensé,

Mes pieds ne sont jamais en repos,

Mais donne-leur des foyers pour les réchauffer

Dans des demeures  au haut d'une colline.

Moi, ma foi est en jachère,

Je ne m'incline que lorsque je vois,

Mais eux sont humbles, et ils ont foi,

Bénis leur crédulité !

Moi, je paie mes dettes en nature,

Et je ne vois point de meilleure façon,

Mais bénis ceux qui tendent l'autre joue

Par amour pour Toi, et qui prient (1) !


Notre Père, Dieu ; notre Frère, Christ,

- Ainsi nous enseigne-t-on  à prier ;

Cette parenté semble bien peu de chose

A ceux qui pleurent tout le jour.

Notre Père, Dieu ; notre Frère, Christ,

Ou sommes-nous des familles de bâtards

Pour qu'à nos plaintes

Tes oreilles soient sourdes

Et Tes portes verrouillées du dedans ?


Notre Père, Dieu ; notre frère, Christ,

Relève à nouveau ma race ;

Alors Tu retrouveras  la brebis noire que je


Et mon cœur païen. Amen.



1. Cf. Matthieu 5, 37.

2. Cf. Matthieu 1 8, 12-14.


Heritage - Poem by Countee Cullen

What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who all day long
Want no sound except the song
Sung by wild barbaric birds
Goading massive jungle herds,
Juggernauts of flesh that pass
Trampling tall defiant grass
Where young forest lovers lie,
Plighting troth beneath the sky.
So I lie, who always hear,
Though I cram against my ear
Both my thumbs, and keep them there,
Great drums throbbing through the air.
So I lie, whose fount of pride,
Dear distress, and joy allied,
Is my somber flesh and skin,
With the dark blood dammed within
Like great pulsing tides of wine
That, I fear, must burst the fine
Channels of the chafing net
Where they surge and foam and fret.

Africa?A book one thumbs
Listlessly, till slumber comes.
Unremembered are her bats
Circling through the night, her cats
Crouching in the river reeds,
Stalking gentle flesh that feeds
By the river brink; no more
Does the bugle-throated roar
Cry that monarch claws have leapt
From the scabbards where they slept.
Silver snakes that once a year
Doff the lovely coats you wear,
Seek no covert in your fear
Lest a mortal eye should see;
What's your nakedness to me?
Here no leprous flowers rear
Fierce corollas in the air;
Here no bodies sleek and wet,
Dripping mingled rain and sweat,
Tread the savage measures of 
Jungle boys and girls in love.
What is last year's snow to me,
Last year's anything?The tree
Budding yearly must forget
How its past arose or set­­
Bough and blossom, flower, fruit,
Even what shy bird with mute
Wonder at her travail there,
Meekly labored in its hair.
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who find no peace
Night or day, no slight release
From the unremittent beat
Made by cruel padded feet
Walking through my body's street.
Up and down they go, and back,
Treading out a jungle track.
So I lie, who never quite
Safely sleep from rain at night--
I can never rest at all
When the rain begins to fall;
Like a soul gone mad with pain
I must match its weird refrain;
Ever must I twist and squirm,
Writhing like a baited worm,
While its primal measures drip
Through my body, crying, "Strip!
Doff this new exuberance.
Come and dance the Lover's Dance!"
In an old remembered way
Rain works on me night and day.

Quaint, outlandish heathen gods
Black men fashion out of rods,
Clay, and brittle bits of stone,
In a likeness like their own,
My conversion came high-priced;
I belong to Jesus Christ,
Preacher of humility;
Heathen gods are naught to me.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
So I make an idle boast;
Jesus of the twice-turned cheek,
Lamb of God, although I speak
With my mouth thus, in my heart
Do I play a double part.
Ever at Thy glowing altar
Must my heart grow sick and falter,
Wishing He I served were black,
Thinking then it would not lack
Precedent of pain to guide it,
Let who would or might deride it;
Surely then this flesh would know
Yours had borne a kindred woe.
Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,
Daring even to give You
Dark despairing features where,
Crowned with dark rebellious hair,
Patience wavers just so much as
Mortal grief compels, while touches
Quick and hot, of anger, rise
To smitten cheek and weary eyes.
Lord, forgive me if my need
Sometimes shapes a human creed.

All day long and all night through,
One thing only must I do:
Quench my pride and cool my blood,
Lest I perish in the flood.
Lest a hidden ember set
Timber that I thought was wet
Burning like the dryest flax,
Melting like the merest wax,
Lest the grave restore its dead.
Not yet has my heart or head
In the least way realized
They and I are civilized. 

Prière païenne
Prière païenne

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