Tuesday, 29 March 2016

"Night in Senegal" by Leopold S. Senghor is a masterpiece often described as one of the greatest poems ever to have been written by an African. The superb imagery alone shows the poet's genius. Its publication in 1945 was a foundation stone in the history of negritude. The poem is as romantic as another of his poem titled "I Will Pronounce Your Name" by Leopold S. Senghor. Night In Senegal is simply about a lover seeking a romantic from his female love during a very silent night period in Senegal. The poem speaker used beautiful poetic devices to portray a nightly romantic scenes.
There are more use of imageries in the poem than other poetic devices; "soothing hands" in line 1, "rhythmic silence" in line 5. Enjambment is also used by the poet; "tellers of tales/ Droop" "voices of our/ Forbears". Alliteration in line 2 "scarcely sway" in line 11 "singers cease their song". Personification in line 9 "The tired moon dips to her bed in the ocean" in line 14 "Roof-tops gleam through the dark". Rhetorical question in line 14 "What are they whispering to the stars?"

For ease of understanding, "lullaby" in line 4 mea
ns a song to quieten babies; it was used in the poem to suggest lack of disturbances since all the kids have already slept. There is "drowsy" in line 10 means sleepy; but based on the context of the poem, it implied a night time. "cloak" in line 13 means a loose garment which goes over the other clothes. Here it implies "covering everything". "pungent" in line 15 means sharp. "cabin" in line 21 means a small house.

Leopold S. Senghor used the third person point of view "Woman" to table his nightly emotional desire to his lover. He was so
romantically preoccupied with the believe that such quiet night was the best time their love can be better expressed.

The poem has five unequal stanzas; the first stanza is seven lines where the poem speaker called on his lover to draw closer to him and enjoy the night quietness and wind with him. Second stanza is four lines that reveals other images of nighttime "The tired moon dips to her bed in the ocean". Third stanza is four lines as well. Personified Night and Roof-tops. Fourth stanza is seven lines; in this stanza, the poem speaker again called on the woman:
"Woman, light your lamp of butter before the ancestors" This particular line is euphemistic, it substitute the poet expression which was supposed to "Woman, take off your dress in presence of me and God" The proceeding lines of the fourth stanza and the fifth stanza further explain the benefits of the woman lighting her lamp. The fifth stanza has three lines

The Poet:-
Leopold S. Senghor was born in Senegal in 1906. He had a brilliant academic career, and he had been a teacher, a soldier,
prisoner-of-war, and politician. He was the first President of the Senegalese Republic (1960). A well-known political writer, he is also an authority on French poetry by Africans, and he has published four(4) anthologies of his own poetry.

The Poem:-
Lay your soothing hands on my brow,
Woman, your hands softer than fur.
High up the palms scarcely sway in
The night wind. No sound, nor even a lullaby
The rhythmic silence rocks us.
Listen to the song, hear the blood beat in our veins.
Hear the deep pulse of Africa sounding through the mist of lost villages.

The tired mood dips to her bed in the ocean.
Laughter is stilled, the tellers of tales
Droop like drowsy infants
The dancer's feet grow heavy, the singers cease their song

It is the starlit hour, and Night dreams
And lean on her cloudy hill, wrapped in her milky cloak.
Roof-tops gleam through the dark. What are they whispering to the stars? Indoors the dying fire smells pungent on the air.

Woman, light your lamp of butter before the ancestors.
The children are in bed.
Let us listen to the voices of our
Forbears. Like us, exiled, they did not
Wish to die, to be lost in strange sands.
In the smoky cabins souls that wish us well are murm'ring
I listen, my head on your warm and soothing breast.

Let me breath the odour of our Dead,
Let me hear their living voices,
That I may learn to live before plunging, diver-like into the eternal depth of sleep.

©Copyright:- Leopold S. Senghor"


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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