Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

African Heritage Poetry: The Culture of Nations

Heritage is a way by which we are introduced to the culture and legacy of a people. African heritage
poems don't merely open the doors to lean more about the heritage in a more intimate way. When one
looks as African heritage culture, they are actually embarking on a journey to embrace culture from
many countries. We all know Africa is a continent comprised of many nations. If would be a discounted
reading experience to try to paint African heritage poems as a monolith. Understanding this concept will
allow a reader to research the poetry of the country they seek to learn about.

Sometimes one might stumble on African heritage poems from, for example, a Kenyan poet as after
encountering poetry from a Nigerian poet and they may be able to see vast difference in perspective in
different areas. Poetry was a way of taking a literary snapshot of different aspects of the cultural
heritage of a people. In the lines we get a view into food, family structure, different aspects of
spirituality, and even the strength of ancestors. There can be a look at love, the roles of men and women
and the beauty of new life. A reader can get glimpses of how said life impacts a community and nation
through African heritage poems.

As many African-Americans seek to learn more about where their ancestors are from African heritage
poems can possibly explain where certain cultural behaviors in one's family. While reading the poetry
one may see mirror observances, family traits and even food similarities. In this sense African heritage
poems can be considered an important part of bridging the gaps in cultures for many in the African
Diaspora. This is just another way the literary form of poetry has a positive impact on readers in a
personal way.


What is Africa to me:
Copper sun or scarlet sea,
Jungle star or jungle track,
Strong bronzed men, or regal black
Women from whose loins I sprang
When the birds of Eden sang?
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who all day long
Want no sound except the song
Sung by wild barbaric birds
Goading massive jungle herds,
Juggernauts of flesh that pass
Trampling tall defiant grass
Where young forest lovers lie,
Plighting troth beneath the sky.
So I lie, who always hear,
Though I cram against my ear
Both my thumbs, and keep them there,
Great drums throbbing through the air.
So I lie, whose fount of pride,
Dear distress, and joy allied,
Is my somber flesh and skin,
With the dark blood dammed within
Like great pulsing tides of wine
That, I fear, must burst the fine
Channels of the chafing net
Where they surge and foam and fret.

Africa? A book one thumbs
Listlessly, till slumber comes.
Unremembered are her bats
Circling through the night, her cats
Crouching in the river reeds,
Stalking gentle flesh that feeds
By the river brink; no more
Does the bugle-throated roar
Cry that monarch claws have leapt
From the scabbards where they slept.
Silver snakes that once a year
Doff the lovely coats you wear,
Seek no covert in your fear
Lest a mortal eye should see;
What's your nakedness to me?
Here no leprous flowers rear
Fierce corollas in the air;
Here no bodies sleek and wet,
Dripping mingled rain and sweat,
Tread the savage measures of
Jungle boys and girls in love.
What is last year's snow to me,
Last year's anything?The tree
Budding yearly must forget
How its past arose or set­­
Bough and blossom, flower, fruit,
Even what shy bird with mute
Wonder at her travail there,
Meekly labored in its hair.
One three centuries removed
From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,
What is Africa to me?

So I lie, who find no peace
Night or day, no slight release
From the unremittent beat
Made by cruel padded feet
Walking through my body's street.
Up and down they go, and back,
Treading out a jungle track.
So I lie, who never quite
Safely sleep from rain at night--
I can never rest at all
When the rain begins to fall;
Like a soul gone mad with pain
I must match its weird refrain;
Ever must I twist and squirm,
Writhing like a baited worm,
While its primal measures drip
Through my body, crying, "Strip!
Doff this new exuberance.
Come and dance the Lover's Dance!"
In an old remembered way
Rain works on me night and day.

Quaint, outlandish heathen gods
Black men fashion out of rods,
Clay, and brittle bits of stone,
In a likeness like their own,
My conversion came high-priced;
I belong to Jesus Christ,
Preacher of humility;
Heathen gods are naught to me.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
So I make an idle boast;
Jesus of the twice-turned cheek,
Lamb of God, although I speak
With my mouth thus, in my heart
Do I play a double part.
Ever at Thy glowing altar
Must my heart grow sick and falter,
Wishing He I served were black,
Thinking then it would not lack
Precedent of pain to guide it,
Let who would or might deride it;
Surely then this flesh would know
Yours had borne a kindred woe.
Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,
Daring even to give You
Dark despairing features where,
Crowned with dark rebellious hair,
Patience wavers just so much as
Mortal grief compels, while touches
Quick and hot, of anger, rise
To smitten cheek and weary eyes.
Lord, forgive me if my need
Sometimes shapes a human creed.

All day long and all night through,
One thing only must I do:
Quench my pride and cool my blood,
Lest I perish in the flood.
Lest a hidden ember set
Timber that I thought was wet
Burning like the dryest flax,
Melting like the merest wax,
Lest the grave restore its dead.
Not yet has my heart or head
In the least way realized
They and I are civilized.

The African Heritage Poem

Years ago our forefathers had a vision
That one day, their descendants will bear the title of their own
To represent their ancient glory
And value it at heart.
Praising the mediums like our fathers did
And ululating in procedure.
With thunder storming ahead as drumbeats play
Women dance with pride while men praise in the music
The spirits play their part.

Our old Africa!
Years when people lived communally
Joint with the same totem
The same spirit the same beliefs
The Zulu, the Kololo,
The Ndebele, the Ngoni.
Families of massive intrepid.
United by norms of the heart.
They prayed for rain and the rain came.
They prayed for victory
There, they sang war cries
To fight for their dignity
To fight against the same blood.
The blood from the same father.
Defeating and loosing they all still conquered the dignity
For they were undefeatable.

Likewise is this same sacred greatness
That our fathers deserve to be honored.
Likewise is this same ancient glory
That our forefathers deserve to be respected.

Likewise are the norms,
The reasons our fathers are remembered.
Years ago as they were practiced.
Years ago in the African Heritage.
Thus we shall preserve our past
To embrace our future.
Long Live Africa! ! !

Written the following African Descent Poets; Countee Cullen & Monica Rupazo


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