Poems for life’s sake: “February” by Augustinho Neto

ah believe that art is meant to compliment the spirit- to nourish it and to fuel it- make it new and ready to withstand the challenges brought on in Babylon. Our oppression is layered and intense- it can feel like something mighty overwhelming. ah often feel overwhelmed- lost and torn into thousands of pieces. in art- words, sounds and images i feel direction and comfort. expression speaks a soul language and has been a powerful tool in the movements of oppressed people because it taps into our cores- our very spirits. and when the body feels tired, it is the spirit that gives that push. our ideology, passion and communities will bring us survival and victory in this life. ah believe that and our art must reflect that otherwise it is rather pointless to me. here is an inspirational and revolutionary poem written in the midst of the Angolan Revolution. the Angolan struggle for independence began in 1961 on Feb 2nd and this work pays honor to that. Neto would later serve as president of the new Angola.

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FEBRUARY – AGOSTINHO NETO

It was then the Atlantic

in the course of time

gave back the carcasses of men

swathed in white flowers of foam

and in the victims’ boundless hate,

brought on waves of death’s congealed blood

And the beaches were smothered by crows and

jackals with a bestial hunger for the battered flesh

on the sands

of the land, scorched by the terror of centuries

enslaved and chained,

of the land called green

which children even now call green for hope.

It was then that the bodies in the sea

swelled up with shame and salt

in the course of time

in blood-stained waters

of desire and weakness.

It was then that in our eyes, fired

now with blood, now with life, now with death

we buried our dead victoriously,

and on the graves made recognition

of the reason men were sacrificed

for love,

for peace,

even while facing death, in the course of time,

in blood-stained waters

And within us

the green land of San Tome

will be also the island of love.

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