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NightChants: Contemporary African Settings

The Call of the River Nun (ensemble)

Text


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The Call of the River Nun

I hear your call
I hear it far away
I hear it break the circle
Of these crouching hills.

I hear your call
I want to view your face
Again and feel your cold
Embrace or at your brim
To set myself

And inhale your breath
Or like the trees to watch
My mirrored self unfold
And span my days
With song from the lips of dawn.

I hear your call
I hear it coming through
Invoking the host of a child
Listening where the river-birds hail
Your silver surfaces flow.

I hear your call
My river's calling too
Its ceaseless flow impels
My foundering canoe down
Its inevitable course.

And each dying
Year brings the final call
That stills the crested waves
And breaks in to the curtain
Of silence of my upturned canoe

O inevitable God
Shall my pilot be
My inborn stars to that
Final call to Thee?
Of my river's complex course.

Gabriel Oakra, 1963 (Nigeria)
From Poems from Black Africa
Indiana Press (permission granted)

 


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