VANITY by Birago Diop

If we tell,gently,gently
All that we shall one day have to tell
Who then will hear our voices without laughter?
Sad complaining voices of beggars
Who indeed will hear them without laughter?  {5}

If we cry roughly of our torments
Ever increasing from the start of things
What eyes will watch our large mouths
Shaped by the laughter of big children
What eyes will watch our large mouths?  {10}

What hearts will listen to our clamouring?
What ear to our pitiful anger?
Which grows in us like a tumor
In the black depth of our plaintive throats?
When our dead comes with their dead  {15}

When they have spoken to us in their clumsy voices
Just as our ears were deaf
To their cries,to their wild appeals
Just as our ears were deaf
They have left on the earth their cries  {20}

In the air,on the water.
Where they have traced their signs for us blind,deaf and unworthy sons
Who see nothing of what they have made.
In the air,on the water,where they have traced their signs
And since we did not understand the dead  {25}

Since we have never listened to their cries
If we weep gently,gently
If we cry roughly to our torments
What heart will listen to our clamouring
What ear to our sobbing hearts?  {30}

 – Vanity by Birago Diop Poem

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