Deeper Songs of Sorrow - Dela Bobobee

death is like a stubborn housefly
that keeps gnawing at our raw wounds
when the wounds are about to heal
it sinks again its hideous proboscis
yesterday it was Atta Mills, Achebe, Seamus
today it’s the turn of our beloved Kofi Awoonor
when you get there, greet Osagyefo and your mother
thank her for bequeathing to you such a gift
which today has become our grim legacy
we sigh in sorrow as our tears dry in fears
of tomorrow’s ugly mirror images
when the dry leaves fall, it’s a cue
to the fresh leaves on the tree to beware
who shall be the next?
who can evade death’s hidden snares?

when upon the solemn molehills
of our deepest sorrows
we again stoop and stretch
our heavy hearts to see beyond
the relentless tides that ebb
on the shores of our melancholy
these bitter lumps in our throats
can no longer stifle the shock and grief
a restless canoe in tempest has left the fishermen
and now we are stranded at sea like floes on water
the master drummer has departed
gone with his old tasseled drumsticks
the last dirge singer has finally gone
who will sing songs of dirge at our funerals?

deeper songs of sorrow
have left subtle signs for us to glean
deeper songs of sorrow
are the bitter teats we cannot wean

when the bright sun of our hope
has abruptly decided to set at dawn
we have to grope in the dark
grim passage of life’s labyrinths
the guiding light in the encircling gloom
had finally dimmed and left us behind
the trail blazers have passed on
to us the batons in the race of life
the master drummer has left
gone with his old tasseled drumsticks
the last dirge singer has finally gone
who will sing songs of dirge at our funerals?

death is eating our hearts away
just like the surging sea that is eating our land
death is a ceaseless and senseless terrorist
that has declared war on our house
and snuffed life out of our loved ones
it is flogging us on our bare buttocks
until we weep and bleed from deep welts
we roll and writhe on the floor in pain
we whiplash at our tormentor in vain
we rant and cry like helpless babies
our grief is great and like hapless orphans
we lick tears and phlegm from our wet noses
who will hear our cries, our hoarse voices?
is it not this same death that hugs and sings us to sleep?

deeper songs of sorrows
have left subtle signs for us to glean
deeper songs of sorrows
are the bitter teats we cannot wean.

the master drummer has left
gone with his old tasseled drumsticks
the last dirge singer has finally gone
who will sing songs of dirge at our funerals?


Dela Bobobee is a regular contributor to One Ghana, One Voice.

Of Awoonor, Bobobee has said:

Kofi Awoonor’s poetic influence on me started way back in the late early 1970s when I was a pupil in elementary school in Aveyime, Ghana, where we were required to memorize and recite rhymes, especially those in our native Ewe language, including "Akpalu fe Agohawo", most of which were compiled in an Ewe textbook called "Ewegbe Nuti Nunya". Among other notable poems, the most unforgettable sorrowful lines that still aptly resonate are:

The rain has beaten me
And the sharp stumps cut as keen as knives
I shall go beyond and rest,
I have no kin and no brother,
Death has made war upon our house

- Songs of Sorrow, Kofi Awoonor

This poem is part of our series of poems in memory of Kofi Awoonor. You can learn more about Awoonor and the series
here.

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