Farewell the Nightingales

“This is one local aspect* of a problem which is actually global.” — Dennis Brutus

Farewell the Nightingales

Walking the streets of the Shah’s Tehran
I was conscious of lurking Savak —
cries of tortured victims hung in the dusk
even as I lingered over buttered long-grain rice
in a dim bistro’s magic cave:

That was then: horror enough, you might decide
but now a new noxious blight

hovers over Persepolis’ ancient lanes,
a ghoulish silence cloaks environs

Farewell the Nightingales!  Song is fled
We have willed desolation on our world.

20 January 2009


* The Mail & Guardian January 16-22 2009 reports, “Crows flee Tehran’s pollution . . . high levels of carbon monoxide . . . drove off . . . nightingales.”

Dennis Brutus is a South African poet.  Active against Apartheid, he was arrested in 1963 and imprisoned for 18 months on Robben Island.  After his release, he became a political refugee in the United States.  Today he is based at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, engaged in poetry and activism against all forms of oppression and exploitation.  The Centre for Civil Society circulates a Dennis Brutus poem every day.  If you want to get a Brutus poem a day, subscribe to the Debate list at lists.kabissa.org/mailman/listinfo/debate.