ysabetwordsmith: Damask smiling over their shoulder (polychrome)
[personal profile] ysabetwordsmith
This poem was inspired by a prompt from LJ user Pocketnaomi. It has been sponsored by LJ user Lone_cat. It belongs to the Danso and Family thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Brothers, Equals"
-- Alcaic stanzas


You cannot name a people as ignorant
Who turn your language, basketlike, whispering,
Back running over self and substance:
Listen and learn or else fall to failure.

O Best Beloved, African history
Tells tales that Europe, envying, echoing,
Brings home to ponder weighty meanings nightly:
Honor us, join with us, brothers, equals.

* * *

NOTES:

This is a poem by  Danso, rather than about him.  One of his pet peeves is people who talk down to him because of his race, his background, and whatnot.  There's a saying, "No man can call you ignorant if you can beat him in a game of chess."  Every culture has things it respects as signs of sophistication; in America, chess is one and poetry is another.  If you can write poetry in Greek forms, you have disproven the argument that you are uneducated or unintelligent.

Alcaic stanza is a Greek form of poetry which relies on syllables.  It doesn't fit well with English, but I've made a capable effort here.

The Just-So Stories by Rudyard Kipling relate fables about why the animals are the way they are.  "The Elephant's Child" is one that explicitly mentions Africa.  "O Best Beloved" is a phrase from there.

African history is the wellspring of humanity, so pay your respects.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-07 01:56 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
♫ With our brother we will share
All the secrets of our mountain
All the riches buried there ♪

Huh. That's a Canadian song, eh? Today I have learnt something. Thank you, Lambert and Potter. It's still bloody well relevant today, forty-odd years later.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-08 12:59 am (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
Amazing.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-09-08 01:45 am (UTC)
chanter_greenie: a bright blue sky and fluffy clouds (Wisconsin summer: boundless friendly sky)
From: [personal profile] chanter_greenie
Oh, this is beautiful! It speaks to Danso's skill with words as much as it does yours, and yes, that's a layered compliment. :)

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-09-29 10:05 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pocketnaomi
Wow. This is lovely. Thank you. It's great to see a little of Danso's own writing, especially when I find out how well he does it!

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-09-29 11:58 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pocketnaomi
I always knew he was smart. You don't succeed at keeping yourself and a handful of younger children alive for extended periods with a set of resources that begins and ends with your collective skins and whatever they contain, without being smart. I just didn't know he had had an opportunity to study ancient Greek poetic forms. :D

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-09-30 01:20 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pocketnaomi
Yeah, my first thought was that he first encountered a brief reference in school -- for example, a few example poems from the period, as enrichment material for an Ancient History class -- and decided it looked interesting, so he used those as a jumping-off point and went diving into the poets and the forms for himself, at home.

Most high schools wouldn't teach anything as esoteric as Greek poetry in any depth, unless he happened to be studying the Greek language at a relatively advanced level... and I doubt that, even if Greek is his foreign language, he'd be advanced enough to be doing poetry translation given how much school he missed, and how briefly he's been attending steadily again. But ancient history is a nearly universal part of the curriculum in American high schools, and when exactly they teach it can wobble all over a six-year period, depending on that school's preferences and convenience. So it would be entirely possible for him to be studying that, or have done so in a previous term; and then wandered off into his own studies just for the fun of it.

Re: Thank you!

Date: 2016-09-30 03:04 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] pocketnaomi
I can see Danso getting into an assignment like that poetic forms thing, and doing *both* the extra credit versions... writing a poem in each form, including each of the exotic forms listed. :D

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