The Dead Ones Did Not Die

I would like to share an excerpt from a beautiful poem (though in French) written by a Senegalese poet – Birago Diop (1906 – 1989). In the following poem titled “Les Morts ne Sont Pas Morts” which based on the online translating device means – The Dead Ones Did Not Die – he addressed the popular African belief that those which and who have died (e.g. ancestors), are still present in the natural world.

Hope everyone will enjoy this beautiful poem which translations I’ve put after the French version. As the translation was quoted from online dictionary, it may not have been depicted accurately but the gist of it is still there.

Les Morts ne Sont Pas Morts
by Birago Diop

Ecoute plus souvent / Listen more often
Les choses que les êtres, / To the things than the beings
La voix du feu s’entend / To the voice of the fire, Listen
Entends la voix de l’eau / Listen to the voice of the water
Ecoute dans le vent / Hear in the wind
Le buisson en sanglot : / The sobbing of the shrub:
C’est le souffle des ancêtres. / It’s the breath of the forefathers

Ceux qui sont morts ne sont jamais partis / Those who died have never left
Ils sont dans l’ombre qui s’éclaire / They are in the shades that become clearer
Et dans l’ombre qui s’épaissit, / and in the shades that thickens
Les morts ne sont pas sous la terre / Deaths aren’t under the earth
Ils sont dans l’arbre qui frémit, / They are in the tree that quivers
Ils sont dans le bois qui gémit, / They are in the wood that wails
Ils sont dans l’eau qui coule, / They are in the water that runs
Ils sont dans l’eau qui dort, / They are in the water that sleeps
Ils sont dans la case, ils sont dans la foule / They are in the huts, they are in the crowd
Les morts ne sont pas morts. / The dead ones did not die

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