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.