Poetry Centre

‘Flight of the Writers’

  • How long have the poison-bards of power
    Flayed our living souls
    O men of words

    How long have they pierced our hearts
    And stabbed our pages full of holes
    In vain


    How long, despite the censor, did we speak
    Clothed only in our blood
    Surrounded by stupidity

    How long must we leave the jungle
    For this exiled wood, this distant war
    Sad soldiers, on a cruel road


    In spite of all we stand
    Our pens like arrows in our hands
    Sad singers, captive from afar

    Calm or aflame, we tell the truth
    From exile, we write reality
    O poets, is flight our fate?


    As a bird slips the fowler’s snare
    And soars into the air
    As a priest fleeing sin becomes a saint

    So it is better that we be gone
    Before we are undone
    Writers! Any road is better than none

    by Jean-Louis N'Tadi, trans. and abridged by Carole Angier