NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 40

PRAISE-SINGER: Elesin Alafin, can you hear my voice? ELESIN: Faintly, my friend, faintly. PRAISE-SINGER: Elesin Alafin, can you hear my call? PRAISE-SINGER: Is your memory sound, Elesin? Shall my voice be a blade of grass and Tickle the armpit of the past? ELESIN: My memory needs no prodding, but What do you wish to say to me? PRAISE-SINGER: Only what has been spoken. Only what concerns The dying wish of the father of all. ELESIN: It is buried like seed-yam in my mind This is the season of quick rains, the harvest Is this moment due for gathering. PRAISE-SINGER: If you cannot come, I said, swear You’ll tell my favorite horse. I shall Ride on through the gates alone. ELESIN: Elesin’s message will be read Only when his loyal heart no longer beats. PRAISE-SINGER: If you cannot come, Elesin, tell my dog. I cannot stay the keeper too long At the gate. ELESIN: A dog does not outrun the hand That feeds it meat. A horse that throws its rider Slows down to a stop. Elesin Alafin Trusts no beasts with messages between A king and his companion. PRAISE-SINGER: If you get lost my dog will track The hidden path to me. ELESIN: The seven-way crossroads confuses Only the stranger. The Horseman of the King Was born in the recesses of the house. As Elesin drifts into a trance while dancing, the Praise-singer becomes alarmed by his inclination to remain in the corporeal world to pursue a courtly marriage with a young woman rather than fulfill his cosmic commitment: PRAISE-SINGER: Elesin Alafin, I no longer sense your flesh. The drums are Are changing now but you have gone far ahead of the World. It is not yet noon in heaven; let those who claim it begin their own journey home. So why must you rush like an impatient bride: why do you race to desert your Olohun-iyo? And in the brave New World across the Middle Passage, a child dies, a child is born at the drug-abuse center in Lexington, Kentucky, where a mournful dirge filters the lugubrious night in a poem, The Wedding, vocalized by the saxophonist, Archie Shepp — qua composer, dramatist, poet — wrought from the cadences of rural Blues and the rhythm of urban Jazz, his recitation mindful of the measured, lilting intonation popularized by Dylan Thomas, but more so, the incantatory shout of a Field Holla and the sonorous timbre of a wilting growl resonant of a Ben Webster solo, which has become a signature tonality in Shepp’s instrumental performances: We sat ten abreast on logs that stretched the entire length of the room I knelt and kissed the ring on the Baptist’s hand thank you , jesus Sista Beatrice said, Praise him this from the steely black men whose corned haunches ached from the cold Pearly Mae got down on her knees so that the weight of the baby would shift to her thighs While outside Black Junior vounced on Panamanian Red and Hector stuck a spike straight into the ball of his eye The butter knife cold on Lexington’s floors laid cleft between Heckerts’ breast And men’s buttocks shivered with a peculiar rhythm of bullocks to flies They had been born in a Christian climate and Capitalism had picked them clean They wore the intense gaze of Deacons and strapped 12 foot razors over bloody Croaker-sacks They sniffed Scag from spoons or good Coke when they could get it The seats of their pants were shiny and stank like their feet So they were ashamed to undress In front of women And when they went back into the church Black Junior seemed to soar past the Preacher in his metal casket straight through the gleaming eyes of God ah said , thank you , jesus Sista Beatrice said Pearly Mae screamed and clutched here groin In that instant of death she had given life And I had become a man with the slippery future of a fish I had bellowed Harlem Inside her And she swelled into loaves of yeasty cities like bread on a poisoned river you poisoned the river she said Then retrieved me with the songs of Damballah and Engels on her lips The similarities of music and poetry have always been apparent; the poets in the days of the bard were frequently referred to as songsters. The relationship became even more abutted at the turn of the 20th century with the rise of Ragtime music from the Black precincts of the United States, which introduced a vernacular idiom with a pastiche of rhythmic syncopation, aural angularity, and improvisation that gave poets and Cubist painters permission to break with the conventional symmetry that shaped art and poetry of the time, inspiring the freshly minted riff in the opening of T.S. Eliot’s Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock: Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky Like a patient etherised upon a table; Enthralled with the asymmetricial syncopation of Ragtime to rupture naturalistic imagery, Eliot and Ezra Pound, who contributed vastly to the stylization of T.S. Eliot’s masterwork, The Waste Land, led modern poets in the retreat away from the conservative stylizations of Victorian poetry, and invested in innovations that would transform modern poetic language in agreement with Pound’s motto to “make it new.” In Harlem, “new” was on its way, arriving in the form of Langston H ՝ϊdՉѥQ] Օ)؁ѡЁͥɔɽ)ѡɕх́ɡ嵕́)́́ѡ!ɱIͅP) չѕ ձ Ց5-䰁))́])ͽ)хPɕٕѵЁ)!՝́Ѽѡمѥ́))聅ɥѡՅձ) ձɔ)ɽɽ幍ѕ)չ )IѠѼ)܁ɽ )$ɐ9ɼ )ݸ1ٕՔѡ)ѡȁ ) ѡձȁ)́ )!݅䃊 )!݅䃊 )Qѡչdѡ͔] Օ̻ )́խѽɕ̰́q%)eЁѡЁeЁЁѡ)ݥtݡ́ѡ )́5ٕЁа19+qݽɑ́Ёͥtѡeɔѡ)͕٥)]͍ٕȰѡ]M她e)ͥɅѠѡ-e)!͕ѡɥ́ѡӊe)ͥٽѡɔa)ɕ͔፡ݕѡ)ɽхаͥ́ɥа)AɅ͔MȰѡЁ͍́ѥѥ)ͥѥѡхͥѡ)ѡиQ-́)ͥݡ啐ѡݽɱ)́ѡ-é͕)́ѼѡɭѼՔ)ݽѡٔ́ͥ)Ѽͅɥ́ȁѡ)ɕٕѼɅٕݥѠѡ)-Ѽѕɱ́ͱ́Ѽ)хєɕٕɥݡѡ)AɅ͔MȰѥѡɕ)ѠѼ́Ʌѵа)́ͥѡɥՅͽ)ѡ-)1M%8)ѱ䰁䁭ѱ)%䰁ѡɔ́ѡЁЁݡɔ)ѥձѥݽɐ)́ѡѕɕͥ)ՅѡЁ́ѡՉЁɽ)չɕѥ٥䁅مѕ)ѡɥѼɝȁյѥ)хѕQ՝)ѥٔ́ѕѽѕ)Ʌѽ䁥́ѽ݅ɐ䰁)хȰх̰ͥѼɅ)ѡ̰͵̰)嵉́ՍѕݥѠ)ͥѡЁɕ́ѡ́)ѡѕȸٕѡѡɄɽ͔)ѡЁѕɑ́ѡٕȁѡ)ɽͅɡ嵥ٕ͕́䁅ɔ)ѽ݅ɐѡѥѥՅ)ѡЁ́ѡѼ݅ѡ)͕͕́Ѽ܁ѕЁѡ)х́ȁ