Black Mother by Viriato da Cruz

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Your presence, mother, is the living drama of a race 

drama of flesh and blood 

which Life has written with the pen of centuries.

Through your voice

Voices from the cane plantations, 

the paddy fields, the coffee farms,

the silk works, the

cotton fields

Voices from plantations in Virginia 

from farms in the Carolinas 




Voices from Brazilian sugar plants,

from the tonga drums, from the 

pampas, from factories, 

Voices from Harlem District South, 

voices from slum locations, 

Voices wailing blues going up the

Mississippi, echoing from rail road wagons. 

Voices weeping with Carrother's voice

"Lord God what will have we done"

Voice of all voices in the proud voice 

of Langston 

in the beautiful voice of Guillen....

Through your back

Gleaming backs beneath the world's strongest suns 

Gleaming backs making fertile with their blood

working soft with their sweat 

the world's richest soils

Gleaming (ai, the colour of those backs...) 

Gleaming backs twisted on the torso

hanging from the gallows, struck down by Lynch 

Gleaming backs (ah, how they gleam, those backs) 

Revived with Zumbi, raised up with Toussaint

Gleaming backs 

they gleam, they gleam, drummers of jazz 

they break, they break the fetters of the soul 

escape soul on the wings of music

 ... of sunlight, of the sun, immortal, 


and beautiful

Through your lap, mother

Rocking those other people

spoilt by the voice of tenderness 

and fed on your sustaining milk,

the good of poetry

of music, of rhythm and gracefulness, 

sacred poets and wise men...

These people have no sons 

for these which are born like wild beasts, 

self generated, different things 

are rather the sons of disgrace: 

the hoe is their plaything 

slave labour-their recreation..

Through your eyes, mother,

I see oceans of grief 

lit by the setting sun, landscapes, 

violet landscapes 

dramas of Cain and Japheth. 

But I see as well (oh if I sec...) 

I see as well how the light robbed from your

eyes now glows 

demoniacal temptress-like Certainty 

glittering steadily-like Hope

in us, your other sons 

making, forming, announcing 

the day of humanity 


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