“The night is tough”: Voices of hope from two Haitian poets

Although the following excerpts from two Kreyòl poems by Haitian writers refer to calamities other than the recent earthquake, they speak across decades of misery to the hope for a better life.


Pou fèt mwen m’ta renmen
Tou peyi-a
Kouvri ak rivyè k’rekonmanse chante
Pou tout wout dle ap rezonnen.


For my birthday I want
The whole country
Covered with rivers that are singing again
So that all the waterways resound
With the shouts of children bathing.
Boadiba, from “Madam La Prezidant”


Nuit-la pwès ; nuit-la kòryas. Mentou, eswa-
nou sere lan fon kè-nou.
Youn lalin grimèl ap balize dèyè mòn; li
fouke youn touf nwaj san ganson.
Chak swa, hou lòyen zetwal.


The night is thick, the night is tough. But still our hope
is kept safe in the depths of our hearts.
A high yellow moon is rising behind the hill; it
grabs a tuft of naked trouserless cloud.
Each evening we eye the stars.
Franketyèn, from Dezafi
* The poems and translations are quoted in George Lang, “A Primer of Haitian Literature,” Research in African Literature 35.2 (2004): 137-38.
Camille Martin

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