Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"The Locust," anonymous lyric

The Locust

What is a locust?
Its head, a grain of corn; its neck, the hinge of a knife;
Its horns, a bit of thread; its chest is smooth and burnished;
Its body is like a knife-handle;
Its hock, a saw; its spittle, ink;
Its underwings, clothing for the dead.
On the ground—it is laying eggs;
In flight—it is like the clouds.
Approaching the ground, it is rain glittering in the sun;
Lighting on a plant, it becomes a pair of scissors;
Walking, it becomes a razor;
Desolation walks with it.

Translated from the Malagasy [from Madagascar] by A. Marre and Willard R. Trask
Source of the text - Voices from Twentieth Century Africa: Griots and Towncriers, selected with an introduction by Chinweizu.  London: Faber and Faber, 1988.

TJB: Precious-vicious. This figure-chant describes, in the first half the features of & in the second half the actions of, a single locust.

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