Aimé Fernand David Césaire (June 26, 1913 – April 17, 2008) was a Francophone poet, author and politician from Martinique.
He was “one of the founders of the négritude movement in Francophone literature”.
In 1945, with the support of the French Communist Party (PCF), Césaire was elected mayor of Fort-de-France and deputy to the French National Assembly for Martinique. He was one of the principal drafters of the 1946 law on departmentalizing former colonies, a role for which independent politicians have often criticized him.
Like many left intellectuals in France, Césaire looked in the 1930s and 1940s toward the Soviet Union as a source of human progress, virtue, and human rights, but Césaire later grew disillusioned with Communism. In 1956, after the Soviet Union’s suppression of the Hungarian revolution, Aimé Césaire announced his resignation from the PCF in a text entitled Lettre à Maurice Thorez. In 1958 he founded the Parti Progressiste Martiniquais.
His writings during this period reflect his passion for civic and social engagement. He wrote Discours sur le colonialisme (Discourse on Colonialism) (1950; English translation 1953), a denunciation of European colonial racism, decadence, and hypocrisy that was republished in the French review Présence Africaine in 1955. In 1960, he published Toussaint Louverture, based on the life of the Haitian revolutionary. In 1969, he published the first version of Une Tempête, a radical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play The Tempest for a black audience.
He served as President of the Regional Council of Martinique from 1983 to 1988. He retired from politics in 2001.
THE WOMAN AND THE FLAME
A bit of light that descends the springhead of a gaze
twin shadow of the eyelash and the rainbow on a face
and round about
who goes there angelically
Woman the current weather
the current weather matters little to me
my life is always ahead of a hurricane
you are the morning that swoops down on the lamp a night stone
between its teeth
you are the passage of seabirds as well
you who are the wind through the salty ipomeas of consciousness
insinuating yourself from another world
you are a dragon whose lovely color is dispersed and darkens so
as to constitute the
inevitable tenor of things
I am used to brush fires
I am used to ashen bush rats and the bronze ibis of the flame
Woman binder of the foresail gorgeous ghost
helmet of algae of eucalyptus
dawn isn’t it
and in the abandon of the ribbands
very savory swimmer
TO THE SERPENT
I have had occasion in the bewilderment of cities to search for the right animal to adore. So I worked my way back to the first times. Undoing cycles untying knots crushing plots removing covers killing hostages I searched.
Ferret. Tapir. Uprooter.
Where where where the animal who warned me of floods
Where where where the bird who led me to honey
Where where where the bird who revealed to me the fountainheads
the memory of great alliances betrayed great friendships lost through our fault exalted me
Where where where
Where where where
The word made vulgar to me
O serpent sumptuous back do you enclose in your sinuous lash the powerful soul of my grandfather?
Greetings to you serpent through whom morning shakes its beautiful mango mauve December chevelure and for whom the milk-invented night tumbles its luminous mice down its wall
Greetings to you serpent grooved like the bottom of the sea and which my heart truly unbinds for us like the premise of the deluge
Greetings to you serpent your reputation is more majestic than their gait and the peace their God gives not you hold supremely.
Serpent delirium and peace
Over the hurdles of a scurrilous wind the countryside dismembers for me secrets whose steps resounded at the outlet of the millenary trap of gorges that they tightened to strangulation.
To the trashcan! may they all rot in portraying the banner of a black crow weakening in a beating of white wings.
broad and royal disgust overpowering the return in the sands of deception
spindrift nourishing the vain raft of the seagull
in the pale tempest of reassuring silences you the least frail warm yourself
You bathe yourself this side of the most discordant cries on the dreamy spumes of grass
when fire is exhaled from the widow boat that consumes the cape of the echo’s flash
just to make your successive deaths shiver all the more—green frequenting of the elements—your threat.
Your threat yes your threat body issuant from the raucous haze of bitterness where it corrupted the concerned lighthouse keeper and that whistling takes its little gallop time toward the assassin rays of discovery.
charming biter of womens’ breasts and through whom death steals into the maturity in the depths of a fruit sole lord lord alone whose multiple image places on the strangler fig’s altar the offering of a chevelure that is an octopodal threat a sagacious hand that does not pardon cowards