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Lyr Add: Breaths (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

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Joe Offer 24 Nov 15 - 12:11 AM
Joe Offer 24 Nov 15 - 12:20 AM
Joe Offer 24 Nov 15 - 12:28 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Breaths (Sweet Honey in the Rock)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 12:11 AM

We've included the Sweet Honey in the Rock song "Breaths" in the Rise Again Songbook, and I found the song very interesting. Here are the lyrics, from http://www.ymbarnwell.com/lyrics.php

BREATHS
(w: Birago Diop, m: Ysaye M. Barnwell)


Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis? the ancestors? breath
When the fire?s voice is heard
Tis? the ancestor?s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh
 
Those who have died have never, never left
The dead are not under the earth
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass
They are in the moaning rocks
The dead are not under the earth
 
Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis? the ancestors? breath
When the fire?s voice is heard
Tis? the ancestor?s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh
 
Those who have did have never, never left
The dead have a pact with the living
They are in the woman?s breast
They are in the wailing child
They are with us in our homes
They are with us in this crowd
The dead have a pact with the living
 
Listen more often to things than to beings
Listen more often to things than to beings
Tis? the ancestors? breath
When the fire?s voice is heard
Tis? the ancestor?s breath
In the voice of the waters
Ah  --  wsh    Ah --  wsh

??w: adapted from a poem by Senegalese poet Birago Diop (1906-1989), m: Ysaye M. Barnwell.
© 1980 Barnwell's Notes Inc.
On Sweet Honey in the Rock Good News, also recorded by The
Flirtations. In Sing Out! 28:2.


Azizi Powell has an interesting page about the song, with links to recordings, at http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2015/01/birago-diop-breaths-poem-sweet-honey.html


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Subject: ADD: Souffles (poem by Birago Diop)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 12:20 AM

I found the original poem at this Website: http://freduagyeman.blogspot.com/2013/09/iv-tribute-to-kofi-awooonor-by-yaayi.html

SOUFFLES
(Birago Diop)

Ecoute plus souvent
Les choses que les êtres,
La voix du feu s'entend,
Entends la voix de l'eau.
Ecoute dans le vent
Le buisson en sanglot:
C'est le souffle des ancêtres.

Ceux qui sont morts ne sont jamais partis
Ils sont dans l'ombre qui s'éclaire
Et dans l'ombre qui s'épaissit,
Les morts ne sont pas sous la terre
Ils sont dans l'arbre qui frémit,
Ils sont dans le bois qui gémit,
Ils sont dans l'eau qui coule,
Ils sont dans la case, ils sont dans la foule
Les morts ne sont pas morts.

Ecoute plus souvent
Les choses que les êtres,
La voix du feu s'entend,
Entends la voix de l'eau.
Ecoute dans le vent
Le buisson en sanglot:
C'est le souffle des ancêtres.

Le souffle des ancêtres morts
Qui ne sont pas partis,
Qui ne sont pas sous terre,
Qui ne sont pas morts.
Ceux qui sont morts ne sont jamais partis,
Ils sont dans le sein de la femme,
Ils sont dans l'enfant qui vagit,
Et dans le tison qui s'enflamme.
Les morts ne sont pas sous la terre,
Ils sont dans le feu qui s'éteint,
Ils sont dans le rocher qui geint,
Ils sont dans les herbes qui pleurent,
Ils sont dans la forêt, ils sont dans la demeure,
Les morts ne sont pas morts.

Ecoute plus souvent
Les choses que les êtres,
La voix du feu s'entend,
Endents la voix de l'eau.
Ecoute dans le vent
Le buisson en sanglot:
C'est le souffle des ancêtres.

Il redit chaque jour le pacte,
Le grand pacte qui lie,
Qui lie à la loi notre sort;
Aux actes des souffles plus forts
Le sort de nos morts qui ne sont pas morts;
Le lourd pacte qui nous lie à la vie,
La lourde loi qui nous lie aux actes
Des souffles qui se meurent.

Dans le lit et sur les rives du fleuve,
Des souffles qui se meuvent
Dans le rocher qui geint et dans l'herbe qui pleure.
Des souffles qui demeurent
Dans l'ombre qui s'éclaire ou s'épaissit,
Dans l'arbe qui frémit, dans le bois qui gqmit,
Et dans l'eau qui coule et dans l'eau qui dort,
Des souffles plus forts, qui ont prise
Le souffle des morts qui ne sont pas morts,
Des morts qui ne sont pas partis,
Des morts qui ne sont plus sous terre.

Ecoute plus souvent
Les choses que les êtres.
____________________________
In English


SPIRITS

Listen to Things
More often than Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the sighs of the bush;
This is the ancestors breathing.

Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the darkness that grows lighter
And in the darkness that grows darker.
The dead are not down in the earth;
They are in the trembling of the trees
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs,
In the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd:
The dead are not dead.

Listen to Things
More often than Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind,
To the bush that is sighing:
This is the breathing of ancestors,
Who have not gone away
Who are not under earth
Who are not really dead.

Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in a woman's breast,
In the wailing of a child,
And the burning of a log,
In the moaning rock,
In the weeping grasses,
In the forest and the home.
The dead are not dead.

Listen more often
To Things than to Beings,
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen in the wind to
The bush that is sobbing:
This is the ancestors breathing.

Each day they renew ancient bonds,
Ancient bonds that hold fast
Binding our lot to their law,
To the will of the spirits stronger than we
To the spell of our dead who are not really dead,
Whose covenant binds us to life,
Whose authority binds to their will,
The will of the spirits that stir
In the bed of the river, on the banks of the river
The breathing of spirits
Who moan in the rocks and weep in the grasses.

Spirits inhabit
The darkness that lightens, the darkness that darkens,
The quivering tree, the murmuring wood,
The water that runs and the water that sleeps:
Spirits much stronger than we,
The breathing of the dead who are not really dead,
Of the dead who are not really gone,
Of the dead now no more in the earth.

Listen to Things
More often than Beings
Hear the voice of fire,
Hear the voice of water.
Listen to the wind,
To the bush that is sobbing:
This is the ancestors, breathing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Breaths (Sweet Honey in the Rock)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 12:28 AM

There's a shorter transcript of the Birago Diop poem at http://www.ayearofbeinghere.com/2014/06/birago-diop-sighs.html

Birago Diop: "Sighs"

Hear more often things than beings,
The voice of the fire listening,
Hear the voice of the water.
Hear in the wind
The bushes sobbing,
It is the sigh of our forebears.

Those who are dead are never gone:
They are there in the thickening shadow.
The dead are not under the earth:
They are in the tree that rustles,
They are in the wood that groans,
They are in the water that runs,
They are in the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd,
The dead are not dead.

Those who are dead are never gone,
They are in the breast of the woman,
They are in the child who is wailing
And in the firebrand that flames.
The dead are not under the earth:
They are in the fire that is dying,
They are in the grasses that weep,
They are in the whimpering rocks,
They are in the forest, they are in the house,
The dead are not dead.

"Sighs" by Birago Diop, as presented in A Companion to African Philosophy, edited by Kwasi Wiredu (translator from the French unknown). © John Wiley & Sons, 2008.

This poem ("Souffles" in French) is found in various forms online, sometimes entitled "Spirits."


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