Léopold Sédar Senghor: To Senegalese Sharpshooters Who Died For France

To Senegalese Sharpshooters Who Died For France

by Léopold Sédar Senghor (Senegal, 1938-40)

A film homage to the Senegalese sharpshooters.
Senghor's poem is read by Manu with violin and percussion by Karim Ikiya

Here is the Sun

That makes virgins’ chests stick out

That makes old men smile on benches

That would awaken the dead under a maternal earth.

I hear the sound of cannons – Is it from Irun?

They are placing flowers on tombs; they are reheating the Unknown Soldier.

You, my obscure brothers, no one names you.

They promise five hundred thousand of your children to the glory of the future dead;

they thank them in advance future obscure dead

The black dishonor!

Listen to me, Senegalese sharpshooters, in the solitude of the black
earth and death

In your solitude without eyes without ears, more than my dark skin in
the depths of the

French provinces

Without even the heat of your comrades asleep next to you, as in days of yore in the

trenches as in days of yore during village discussions

Listen to me, black skinned sharpshooters, albeit without ears and without eyes in

your triple night enclosure.

We did not hire female lamenters, not even the tears of your ancient wives

-- They remember only your big expressions of anger, preferring the ardor of
the living.

The moans of the too clear female lamenters

The cheeks of your wives dried too quickly as in the dry season the torrents of the


The hottest tears too clear and too quickly drunk at the corner of forgetful lips.

We bring you, listen to us, we who spelled your names during the months when

you died

We, in these days of fear without memory, we bring you the friendship of your

comrades of your age.

Ah! would that I were able one day with a voice the color of embers, would that
I were able to sing

The friendship of comrades fervent like intestines and delicate, strong like tendons.

Listen to us, the Dead spread out in the water in the depths of the
Northern and Eastern


Receive this red soil, under the summer sun this soil reddened by the blood of
white hosts

Receive greetings from your black comrades, Senegalese sharpshooters


Tours, 1938