The Well

In the birthplace of civilisation
the spring of health is open to all.
The croaking frogs draw us closer,
their chorus leading the giant
who approaches with long, loping strides.
A copper dagger pierces his navel.
With a bow and arrow clasped in his hands
he kneels down by the spring,
ready to attack anyone who approaches:
a hero never dies surrounded by thieves,
a hero dies like alone, like a wounded lion.

We cannot draw water from the well any longer
and the ink in our pens has run dry.
He who presses on with the pen
will be called a hero of deceipt.
He who is fearful yet stands firm,
even unsupported,
will open the opposite door:
that between wisdom and understanding -
the first generation we behold.

Share this poem

view comments

Comments (1)

Meg Arenberg

This translation sounds lovely, but I do not think it is accurate. I disagree with the translators interpretation of the poem. I do not read it as laudatory of Fumo Liongo at all—quite the opposite, I think Kezilahabi laments the hold of poetic tradition on modern creativity and applauds the hero’s killer for figuratively opening a door to a new generation of poets unrestrained by this tradition.

Leave a comment