Édouard Glissant: “La terre matrice des pays antillais, Haïti”

edouard_glissant

As a follow up to our recent posts on events related to the late Martinican thinker Édouard Glissant [Callaloo: Special Issue on Édouard Glissant, CfP (seminar): Édouard Glissant – Totality and Poetics of Relation, and others] I couldn’t resist posting this gem from the treasure trove of the Île en île site: Édouard Glissant reading “La terre matrice des pays antillais, Haïti,” an excerpt of the Traité du Tout-Monde. See the text below, my rough translation, and the link to the reading; remember to click on the listening icon to hear the author’s voice (très émouvant!)

La terre matrice des pays antillais, Haïti.

Qui n’en finit pas d’acquitter l’audace qu’elle eut de concevoir et de faire lever la première nation nègre du monde de la colonisation.
Qui depuis deux cents ans a éprouvé ce que Blocus veut dire, chaque fois renouvelé.
Qui sans répit souffre ses campements et sa mer folle, et grandit dans nos imaginaires.
Qui a vendu son sang créole un demi-dollar le litre.
Qui s’est distribuée à son tour dans les Amériques, la Caraïbe, l’Europe et l’Afrique, refaisant diaspora.
Qui a consumé tout son bois, marquant de plaies arides l’en-haut de ses mornes.
Qui a fondé une Peinture et inventé une Religion.
Qui meurt à chaque fois de débattre entre ses élites nègres et ses élites mulâtres, tout aussi carnassières.
Qui a cru qu’une armée était faite de fils de héros.
Qui a charroyé des mots beaux ou terribles, le mot macoute, le mot lavalas, le mot déchouquer.

Translation:

The land that gave birth to Caribbean countries, Haiti

That has never finished paying for the audacity she had in conceiving and raising the first black nation in the world of colonialism.
That for two hundred years has experienced the meaning of “Blockade,” a meaning repeatedly renewed.
That unremittingly endures its tent camps and its mad sea, and grows in our [collective] imaginary.
That has sold her Creole blood for half a dollar a liter.
That has scattered itself through the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa, reconstructing diaspora.
That consumed all its wood, etching arid wounds atop its hills.
That founded a Painting [style] and invented a Religion.
That dies at each moment of debate between its black elites and mulatto elites, all equally flesh-eating.
That believed that an army was made ​​of the sons of heroes.
That has carried beautiful and terrible words, the word “Macoute”; the word “lavalas”; the word “déchouquer.”

For text and audio link, go to http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/ile.en.ile/paroles/glissant_haiti.html

For more information from Île en île, go to http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/ile.en.ile/

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