Poetry Parnassus: Elegy (Ethiopia)

Poetry Parnassus is a project of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, hosted at the Southbank Centre in London. It ran from June 26 to July 1, featuring 145 poets from around the world. Here is the Guardian’s interactive map, where you can click on a country and read its poem. I will be posting them on a semi-regular basis until they’re done.

Elegy, by Bewketu Seyoum (Ethiopia)

The fall of every leaf diminishes me,
so when I hear a rustle
I send my eyes out of the window
to look at the trees in the yard.
Alas! where there were woods,
now I see flag-poles standing.
Men have swept nature’s nest away
to build their cities.
The melody of the nightingale
has lost its immortality
and I am sitting on a dead land,
writing my elegy in the sand.

• Translated from the Amharic by Chris Beckett.

• ‘Elegy’ from Modern Poetry in Translation by permission of the author.

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