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A Far Cry From Africa

Written by: Derek Walcott | Biography
 | Quotes (4) |
 A wind is ruffling the tawny pelt
Of Africa, Kikuyu, quick as flies,
Batten upon the bloodstreams of the veldt.
Corpses are scattered through a paradise.
Only the worm, colonel of carrion, cries: "Waste no compassion on these separate dead!" Statistics justify and scholars seize The salients of colonial policy.
What is that to the white child hacked in bed? To savages, expendable as Jews? Threshed out by beaters, the long rushes break In a white dust of ibises whose cries Have wheeled since civilizations dawn >From the parched river or beast-teeming plain.
The violence of beast on beast is read As natural law, but upright man Seeks his divinity by inflicting pain.
Delirious as these worried beasts, his wars Dance to the tightened carcass of a drum, While he calls courage still that native dread Of the white peace contracted by the dead.
Again brutish necessity wipes its hands Upon the napkin of a dirty cause, again A waste of our compassion, as with Spain, The gorilla wrestles with the superman.
I who am poisoned with the blood of both, Where shall I turn, divided to the vein? I who have cursed The drunken officer of British rule, how choose Between this Africa and the English tongue I love? Betray them both, or give back what they give? How can I face such slaughter and be cool? How can I turn from Africa and live?



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