I Thank You God


I thank you God for creating me Black,
For making of me
Porter of all sorrows,
Setting on my head
The World.
I wear the Centaur's hide
And I have carried the World since the first morning.

White is a colour for special occasions
Black is the colour for every day
And I have carried the World since the first evening.

I am glad
Of the shape of my head
Made to carry the World,
Content
With the shape of my nose
That must snuff every wind of the World
Pleased
With the shape of my legs
Ready to run all the heats of the World.
I thank you God for creating me black
For making of me
Porter of all sorrows.

Thirty-six swords have pierced my heart.
Thirty-six fires have burnt my body.
And my blood on all calvaries has reddened the snow,
And my blood at every dawn has reddened all nature.

Still I am
Glad to carry the World,
Glad of my short arms
            of my long arms
                        of the thickness of my lips.

I thank you God for creating me black.
White is the colour for special occasions
Black the colour for every day
And I have carried the World since the dawn of time . . . .
And My laugh over the World, through the night, creates the Day.

I thank you God for creating me black.


                    French; trans. John O. Reed & Clive Wake


Bernard Dadie, French, trans. John O. Reed & Clive Wake, French African Verse, Heinemann Educational Books, 1972.