The Burial of Saint Domeabra - Darko Antwi


O Saint Domeabra… that Friday dawn
that dawn when you died at AbrepƆ,
your kinsmen dragged your body –
through the long woody quiet path
that goes to your primal village.

One could barely hear the singing birds.

It was so quiet – a whisper could explode.
No maid had been out to the wells
and the boys who run helter skelter at noon
were still on their bamboo mats,
dreaming snail-hunt and rattraps.

Domeabra, that day of your death,
your people cried – but not unto your soul.
For they delight in bodies more than life.
Yet, no sooner had they worn red and black
than their pestles and mortar put aside.

At the graveyard, I eavesdropped,
they were telling a thousand tales about your life:
the lemons, the salt, the god and the demons in you.
Yehowah! each person knows what or who killed you,
all too compelling – but none trustworthy.

If I should say: you were without fault,
I will be defying Romans and Corinthians.
None of your accusers is righteous though
– amongst them are many two-leftfooters
who can guess the skeletons in their cupboards?

Domeabra, when you were buried,
that day, that very day, I bathed with palmwine
And ripped my heart into shreds of reed
(I ripped it bleeding with hands of gorilla)
But, sorry, I couldn’t have joined you in the grave.

Domeabra, look, when you die again,
let them bury you where you would die
because no piece of land repels a corpse.
Humans may fail or pretend therefore
but earth is a kind keeper of us all.

12 comments:

Kwadwo Oteng Owusu said...

great piece of satire...true reflection of societal behaviour..

Kwadwo Oteng Owusu said...

great piece of satire...true reflection of societal behaviour..

Adjei Agyei-Baah said...

You are a master over your local setting.You simply do not just watch...but you also see as well.Your style of mocking at the follies of the society always leaves me overwhelm and make me hunger from your poetry poet.

"Apologies the Witches" was superb and this one is nerve-racking.I love your diction,setting, arrangements and above your symbols used.This poem will forever be registered in the memory of society.

Thanks for being a constant check over society's hypocritical behavior.

Anonymous said...

Greatings, No estб seguro de que esto es verdad:), pero gracias a un cargo.
Have a nice day

[url=http://www.mjapset.com/]Miato[/url]

LS said...

Thanks Darko for your poem.

I prefer to read St Domeabra as an allegorical figure (but I may be wrong). How he came to be canonised is not revealed. Interesting that like Christ, he died on a Friday.

Cheers

Darko Antwi said...

To brothers & sister: Kwadwo, Adjei and L.S, I'm most grateful for your inspiring appreciation.

You've thrown more light on this poem, which happens to be the title of my new book. And I believe that your views and interesting queries will go a long way to refine it, if I should think of a revision in future.

Thanks a lot.

Dela Bobobee said...

Darkwo Entwi’s first and second poems both have a thin line of didactic elements but the second is more of a mocking satire as a colour reflection of the prevalence of societal false sense of value.

The poem is replete with numerous examples of situational irony like an elaborately woven tapestry running through the entire poem ridiculing societal ethical standing.

With every single word of spoof, poet Darkwo Entwi, has come a long way to carve a niche for himself as an excellent lampoonist. Great work. I think our society needs more of this, please.

Darko Antwi said...

Dela, I'm so happy you're back. With your brilliant comments, you've kept a smile on my lips. I will welcome whatever you have to say about my works, good or 'bad'. Because I believe there's nothing bad out there if we're constructively critised.

Thanks a lot

Prince Mensah said...

Spectacular!

Prince Mensah said...

The Antwi magic is at work again!
The only suggestion I will give Darko is to repeat the single line,
'One could barely hear the singing birds.' after every stanza. That could help build the somber mood that the poem seeks to convey.

The title of the poem is really splendid: Everyone becomes a saint when they die, because it is considered dishonorable to speak ill of the dead. Domeabra was a simple man, who made mistakes in life but, in death, he is canonized by villagers bound by customary practices.

(Continued in next post)

Prince Mensah said...

The name 'Domeabra' holds significance in this poem. Domeabra is a derivative word of the Akan phrase, Se wo do me a, bra' which means 'If you love me, come to me'. Anyone who has attended a Ghanaian funeral would remember seeing multitudes of people. The fact remains that a huge part of the multitude never knew the deceased in personal terms. Some of them are distant relatives, others are old acquaintances (or friends of friends) and the rest are curious folk who want to be part of the funeral. They all attend the funeral because there is a thin line of love, a human solidarity with the dead person. It is assumed that people normally do not attend the funeral of other people they dislike. Remember Peter Tosh famously declined to attend Bob Marley's funeral. Hence, the crowd at a funeral is assumed to be present because of 'love'. This makes the title very appropriate for the poem.

I love 'The Burial of Saint Domeabra' because it tackles our cultural obsession with funerals and, by extension, places of burial. With humor and honesty, Darko lays into deep seated cultural practices that adore corpses (bodies) but do not attend to the needs of the living.

In the fourth stanza, Darko mocks the myths and legends that tend to be told after people die. All the sudden, everybody seems to know some powerful secret about the deceased; everyone wants to be seen as an expert on the deceased's life (and death).

The fifth stanza is, in my opinion, the best stanza. Darko uses allusion in the line

'If I should say: you were without fault,/I will be defying Romans and Corinthians '

The Book of Romans (in the Bible) talks about the fact that all have sinned and have fallen short of the
glory of God. The Book of Corinthians covers the subject of life after death. I must applaud Darko for doing exactly what poetry was meant to be: commenting on very deep issues in very few words.

The sixth stanza is poignant in its description of alcoholic binges at funerals. The usual Ghanaian village funeral scene is a mixture of cold palm wine and hot tears. I love the fact that Darko refutes the 'me ne wo be ko'ooo '(I shall go with you) funeral chant in the last line of the sixth stanza -

'But, sorry, I couldn’t have joined you in the grave.'

The seventh stanza resonates with people who live in a land faraway from the land of their birth. There is this tendency by culturally obsessed Ghanaians, who live in diaspora, to insist on being taken back to Ghana after they die. Instead of being buried in the 'foreign land', their corpses are flown over to Ghana as special cargo. This incurs a heap of expenses for their family members, forcing them to use funds that could go into enhancing the education and/or sustenance of a living person.

Personally, I find great significance in Darko's use of seven stanzas to convey the themes in this poem. Seven means completion and, as a practising Seventh-Day Adventist, the seventh day is a day of rest (according to the order of creation). In my opinion, Darko hopes that, after all the brouhaha in the village concerning his burial, Saint Domeabra will finally find rest in death. Darko's poem is very, very good. I could write an entire book by reviewing 'The Burial of Saint Domeabra' but I would defer any more comments to the other poets who might come across this poem later.

Contemporary Ghanaian poetry is maturing at a furious pace and Darko is an excellent example of that. Thank you for making us ponder on these important issues, Darko.

Darko Antwi said...

Prince, I’m so thankful for your insightful booklet appreciation. When I read it this afternoon, I was left speechless – but truly encouraged by some praises I hope to quote at the backpage of my next book, due somewhere 2013.

Throughout my revision - since its first draft in March - I haven’t been comfortable with that odd line. So it is with much relief and gratitude do I wish to carry your good suggestion on board.

Thanks a lot.