Warrior's Farewell - Kwame Atta Pappoe

Brethren
Times when you cannot fire your musket
But you must
Times when you cannot wield your sword
But you must
Men pass away in a twinkling,
But women endure.
Without stepping on the battlefield,
We perish in war.


When the martial drums beat in frenzied sorrow,
And the mmenson sound their mournful farewell
And warriors in serried ranks
File past in your memory,
Perhaps the wailing womens’ cries
And the salvos of musketry
The million tear drops and cries of anguish,
Will make you remember me.
Perhaps in your death-sleep-wake state,
You will seek me among the multitude,
Just to give me a nod of farewell.

But my liege and lord
I shall not be there
For the night is dark
And I am far from home
My limbs are frail
Though my will is strong still
But my liege and lord
I shall not be there.


When the darkness grim has fallen,
And on your bier you are laid,
When the warriors file past to say final farewell
And the Last Rites are almost done,
I know you will remember me;
And in your death-sleep-wake state,
Glance around looking for me
Just to give me a wink of knowing farewell.

But my liege and lord
I shall not be there
For the night is dark
And I am far from home
My limbs are frail
Though my will be strong still
But my liege and lord
I shall not be there.


Do not seek me there, my comrade,
Do not seek me where I am not.
And do not mourn that I am not
Remember then that my sorrow is great.
When they finally commit your remains,
To return to the ancestral home,
Remember me in one flash of memory
As I stand beside your resting place
Head bowed with tears in rivuletted face.
Remember me, my liege
When you cross the dark waters
And do not fret about me.

My liege and my lord
Though I shall not be there
And though the night be dark
And I am far from home,
I bid you one everlasting farewell.
Adieu.


Kwame Atta Pappoe is a Ghanaian poet.

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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