Europe, by Mazisi Kunene
Europe, your foundations
Are laid on rough stone.
Your heart is like cobwebs
That dry in the desert.
Your children fill us with fear:
They are like the young of the puff adder
Who devour the flesh of their parent.
Once I believed the tales.
Once I believed you had breasts
Over-flowing with milk.
I saw you rushing with books
From which the oracles derive their prophecies.
I heard you in the forest
Crying like wolves,
Breaking the bones of your clans.
I know the hardness of your visions:
You closed the doors
And chose the bridegroom of steel.
You chose her not to love
But because she alone remained
Dedicated to silence.
From her you made your prophecies
And summoned the oracles:
You laughed at the blind men
But you yourself were blind,
Struggling in this great night.
Children have inherited the fire.
They blow its flames to the skies
Burning others in their sleep.
What will the sun say?
The sun will laugh
Because it burnt out cradles from age to age.
Poem translated from Zulu. Kunene, M (1975) ‘Europe’, in Soyinka, W (Ed.), Poems of Black Africa. Ibadan: Heinemann, pp. 20