Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 41

The Massachusetts Review, Inc.

Black Orpheus
Author(s): Jean-Paul Sartre and John MacCombie
Source: The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Autumn, 1964 - Winter, 1965), pp. 13-52
Published by: The Massachusetts Review, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25087216
Accessed: 13-08-2015 01:59 UTC

Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at http://www.jstor.org/page/
info/about/policies/terms.jsp
JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content
in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship.
For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

The Massachusetts Review, Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Massachusetts
Review.

http://www.jstor.org

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Sartre

Jean-Paul

Black Orpheus
the
gag that was keeping
these black
were
That
what
for?
When
you hoping
they would
shut,
you think that when
they raised them
sing your praises? Did
in the eyes of these
read adoration
selves up again, you would
to the very
to bend down
had forced
heads
that our fathers
men
at
are
Here
black
us, and I
standing,
looking
ground?
shock
of
feel the
me?will
being seen. For
hope that you?like
you

removed

mouths

three
of

thousand

seeing

the white

years,

without

being

seen;

man

has

he was

the privilege
enjoyed
a
look?the
only
light

from his eyes drew each thing out of the shadow of its birth;
of his skin was

the whiteness
white

man?white

because

another
look, condensed
light. The
was
white
like daylight,
he
man,

up the creation like

white like truth, white like virtue?lighted


a torch

and unveiled
are
black men

the secret white

essence

of beings. Today,
our
at
and
us,
gaze comes back to
looking
torches
in
their
black
turn,
eyes;
light up the world
our
no
more
are
than Chinese lanterns
and
white heads
swinging
to
with
in the wind. A black poet?unconcerned
us?whispers

these
our own

the woman

he loves:

Naked

woman,

"Orph?e

Noir"

African andWest
de

la nouvelle

key document
able in English

black

woman

color

which

in your

Dressed

appeared

is life

as

originally

..

the

to

preface

an

et malgache
de langue
n?gre
fran?ais,
fo?sie
of "N?gritude,"
of the concept
in the history
to come
in a difficult
only
by and out-of-print

It appears
here
in
Africaine
(Paris,
1951).
of M.
in a translation
the permission
Sartre,

its first American


by

John

of

anthology

Indian poets, edited by Leopold S?dar-Senghor


Paris,
it has
issue

(Anthologie
A
1948).
avail
been
of Presence

publication
MacCombie.

with

13

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
Naked

dark

woman,

Review

woman,

Firm fleshed ripe fruit, somber ecstasies of black wine.


seems to us to be a strange
that
livid varnish
and our whiteness
our
worn
at
out
skin
from
the
tights,
keeps
breathing?white
find real human flesh
elbows and knees, under which we would
the color of black wine
if we could remove
them. We
think we
are

to the world?suns
of
essential
no
more
than its fauna,
tides; we are
These
These

moons
even

of

its

beasts:

from the city

gentlemen
proper

its harvests,
beasts. Not

gentlemen

Who
Who

no longer know how to dance in the evening by moonlight


no longer know how to walk on the flesh of their feet

Who

no

to

how

know

longer

tell

tales

the

by

fireside

. . .

with divine
feel
right, we were already
Formerly
Europeans
or Soviet
to crumble under American
ing our dignity
beginning
was already
no more
acci
than a geographical
looks; Europe
were
shoves
We
into
the
Atlantic.
that
Asia
the
dent,
peninsula
in the
at least to find a bit of our greatness
reflected
hoping
no
more
are
But
Africans.
there
the
domesticated
of
eyes
and free looks that judge our
domesticated
eyes: there are wild
world.
Here

is a black man

wandering:

to the end of

Here

Here

the

eternity

with

cops

is another

one

Alas!

Alas!

fingers

and

of

their

boulevards

endless

. . .

to his brothers:

shouting

Spidery Europe
its

phalanxes

of

ismoving
ships

its

. . .

is:
the

cunning

silence

of Europe's

night.

. .

14

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
inwhich
. . . there

is nothing

that

time

does

not

dishonor.

writes:

negro
At

we

times,

will

haunt

and
its endless
Europe
. . .
or like malaises

and

Montparnasse

Paris,

like memories

torments,

in our own eyes. She is no more


a white mist
at the bottom
of sunlit

seems
France
and suddenly
a malaise,
than a memory,

exotic

to live in; she has drifted


unfit
towards
souls, a back-country
near
the
Kamchatka:
she
essential
is
anchored
the North,
thing
islands"
is the sun, the sun of the tropics and the sea "lousy with
and the lilies of Iarive and the vol
and the roses of Imangue

?anos of Martinique.

Being

[l'Etre]

is black, Being

ismade of

our
to justify
accidental
and far away, we have
fire,
our
our
our
and
undercooked
mores,
technics,
verdigris
paleness
are eaten away to the bones by these quiet and
We
vegetation.
looks:
corrosive
we

are

to the white world


horribly weary of its immense effort

Listen

its rebel

articulations

crackling

under

hard

stars,

its steel-blue stiffnesses piercing mystical flesh


listen to its exhibitionist victories trumpeting its defeats
listen to itswretched
staggering with grandiose alibis
Have

pity

on

our

na?ve

omniscient

conquerors.

our victories?their
bellies
are, finished;
sticking
to
their guts, our secret defeat.
If we want
up in the air?show
no
can
we
crack open this finitude which
us,
imprisons
longer
of our race, of our color, of our technics:
rely on the privileges
we will not be able to become
a part of the totality
from which
those black eyes exile us, unless we tear off our white
in
tights
There

we

to be men.
to try simply
not intended
shame us however,
these poems
they were
to: they were not written
not
for us; and they will
shame any
or their accomplices
this book,
for these
colonists
who
open

order
If

15

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

are reading
shoul
letters over someone's
are address
for them. These
black men
is
to black men
about black men;
their poetry
nor imprecatory:
an
to
conscious
it is
awakening

think

latter will

they
not meant

letters

der,

Review

ing themselves
neither
satiric
ness. "So," you will

it interest us, if it
say, "in what way does
cannot enter into it." I should
like to
We
is only a document?
of jet ; I should
show inwhat way we can gain access to this world
seems
racial at first?is
like to show that this poetry?which
a hymn
I am
In a word,
for everyone.
by everyone
actually

black

to them
like to explain
a
is
it
through
why
necessarily
in
his
the
that
black
man,
condition,
present
experience
conscious
of himself;
first become
and,
inversely,
why
in the French
is, in our time, the only
language
poetry

great

revolutionary

and
talking now to white men,
know:
what
black men
already
poetic
must

I should

poetry.
*

is not

It
uses

by accident
to speak
language

that

just

poetic

the white

rarely
proletariat
its anger or its
its suffering,

about

pride in itself; neither do I think that workers are less gifted


than

our bourgeois
when

all meaning
class than

sons:
one

in another.

"talent"?that

claims
Nor

that

efficacious

it is more

is it hard work

grace?loses
in one
widespread
that takes away their
even harder
and yet

to drudge
song:
must
that
It
therefore
be recognized
of slave hymns.
that keep the
circumstances
of the class struggle
it is the present

capacity
we know
worker
nics,

for

slaves

from

himself
expressing
to be a technician

he wants

used

by tech
Oppressed
poetically.
that technics
because he knows

will be the instrument of his liberation; he knows that it is only


that
and scientific know-how
economic
by gaining
professional,
to control
He
business management.
he will
be able someday
now has a
of what
poets have
knowledge
practical
profound
more
he has gained
it is a knowledge
but
called Nature,
isMatter
for
his eyes: Nature
on
his
with
that he works
inert adversity
crafty,
same
no
the
has
At
the
Matter
song.
present
time,
phase
tools;

through
him?that

his hands

than

through

16
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
of his

struggle

requires

calculation,

precise

of him

continual,

action:

politi
of
organization
forecasting,
discipline,
to dream,
at this point, would
the masses;
be to betray. Ra
themes
of his daily
great
tionalism, materialism,
positivism?the
for the spontaneous
creation of poetic
battle?are
least propitious
cal

The
last of these myths?the
myths.
the circumstances
under
withdrawn

positive

famous

"Upheaval"?has
one must
struggle:
take up the matter
that is most urgent,
gain this and that posi
on
this
raise
decide
that
strike or on some
tion,
salary,
sympathy
war
in
the
alone matters.
Indo-China:
protest
against
efficiency
of

the

a doubt,

the oppressed
class must
first find itself.
is the exact opposite
of a sub
however,
self-discovery,
it is a question
of oneself:
of recog
rather,
jective examination
situation
of
and
action?the
the
objective
by
nizing?in
can
which
be
the
of
determined
circumstances
by
proletariat,
or of redistribution
an
of property.
Unified
op
by
production

And,
This

without

on each and every one, and reduced


is exerted
pression which
are hardly
to a common
workers
the
with
acquainted
struggle,
inner contradictions
that fecundate
the work
of art and that are
to the praxis. As far as they are concerned,
to know
harmful
is to situate

themselves

themselves

within

the

context

of

the

it requires
them to determine
them;
their exact position
in their class and their function
in the
use
is
from
The
free
the
very
Party.
they
language
slight
of the screws, the constant
frivolous
the
loosening
impropriety,
create
which
the poetic Word.
of transmissions
In their
game
great
both

forces

business,
language

that

surround

technical
and as for the
terms;
they use well-defined
of revolutionary
has
shown
Parain
that it is
parties,
it is used to transmit
informa
orders, watch-words,

pragmatic:
if it loses its exactness,
the Party
falls
tion;
more
more
to eliminate
tends
and
rigorously
must

this
po
The

some way
remain
subjective.
a poetry
that is sociological
and yet
as it is
that is just as subjective
finds its source in subjectivity,
on
or
that is based
uncertain
sociological,
ambiguous
language
as exalting
and that is nevertheless
and as generally
understood
as the most
or as the phrase "Workers
of
precise watch-words
etry,

however,
has
proletariat

not

in

of
apart. All
the subject;

found

17

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
all

countries,

that

unite"

one

reads

Review
on doors

in Soviet

Russia.

has

of

the poetry
the future revolution
remained
of well-intentioned
who
found
young
bourgeois
their inspiration
in their personal
contradictions,
psychological
in the dichotomy
their ideal and their class, in the un
between

this,
Lacking
in the hands

of the old bourgeois


certainty
language.
is a victim
Like
the white worker,
the negro
structure
situation
reveals
of our society. This

of the capitalist
his close

to him

certain classes
ties?quite
apart from the color of his skin?with
are
of Europeans
it
incites him to
like
who,
him,
oppressed;
a
in
which
skin
will
society
imagine
pigmentation
privilege-less
a
even
mere
be considered
fluke. But
itself
though
oppression
a mere

the circumstances
under which
it
fluke,
to
the
and
conditions:
vary according
history
geographic
man
is a victim
of it because he is a black man
and insofar
a
or
a
And
is
native
since he
African.
colonized
deported
race
the
of
his
of it, he
within
and
because
confines
pressed
be

may

first

of all become

who

have

of his

conscious

race. He

must

the centuries

tried

exists
black
as he
is op
must

those
oblige
to reduce him

throughout
vainly
status of a beast,
to recognize
this
that he is a man. On
no
or
no
means
there is
of trickery,
of evasion,
point,
"crossing
a Jew?a
line" that he can consider:
white man
among white
a man
can declare
men?can
himself
that he is a Jew,
deny
to the

nor can
cannot deny
that he is negro,
among men. The
negro
he
he claim that he is part of some abstract colorless
humanity:
the wall
of authen
is black. Thus
he has his back up against
he
insulted
and
been
enslaved,
ticity: having
picks up
formerly
a stone, he
was
at
thrown
him
like
which
the word
"nigger"
a black man,
erect and proudly
draws himself
himself
proclaims
come
men.
eventu
to
The unity which will
face with white
face
in the same strug
all oppressed
together
ally, bringing
peoples
I
in
must
the
what
shall call the mo
colonies
be
by
preceded
gle,
or negativity:
racism is the only
ment of separation
this anti-racist
road
could

that will

lead

it be otherwise?

proletariat?involved
and organized
united

to the

of racial differences.
abolition
count on a distant
Can black men
in

its

on their

own
own

How
white

they
struggles?before
soil? And
furthermore,

are
isn't

18

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
some

there
realize

the

for

a thorough
work
of analysis
that
the
interests
of
underlie

to

in order
the

obvious
identity
The white worker
somewhat
benefits
conditions?
in spite of himself:
of
low as his standard
colonization,
be even lower if there were no coloniza
may be, it would

difference
from

need
of

living
tion. In any case, he is less cynically
or Saint-Louis.
laborer
in Dakar
The

exploited
technical

than

the day
and
equipment

of the European
industrialization
countries make
it possible
for
measures
to be immediately
of socialization
there;
applicable
or the Congo,
seems more
but as seen from S?n?gal
socialism
than anything
else like a beautiful
dream:
before black peasants
can discover
answer
to their pres
is the necessary
that socialism
ent

local

claims,

jointly;
But

therefore,
this new

Marxism

tries

worker,
unearned

class

must

learn

they must

think

they

to

formulate

of themselves

these
claims
as black men.

is different
from
that which
self-discovery
to awaken
in the white worker.
In the European
is based on the nature
consciousness
of profit and

on the present
conditions
of the
increment,
for work;
instruments
in brief,
it is based on
tive characteristics
of the position
of the proletariat.
scorn that white
men
the selfish
for black
display
that has no equivalent
in the attitude
of the bourgeois

of

the

the working
recesses
aimed at the deepest
class?is
a
more
black men must
exact
it
with
view
oppose

ownership
the objec
But

since

men?and
towards

of the heart,
of black sub

race consciousness
is based first of all
jectivity;
consequently
on the black
term
the
is often used
in
soul, or, rather,?since
a
this anthology?on
common
to the thoughts
certain quality
and conduct
of negroes which
is called N?gritude
[sic]. There
are
two
to
about
racial
either
ways
go
only
concepts:
forming
one causes certain subjective
to become
characteristics
objective,
or else one tries to interiorize
manners
revealed
of
objectively
means
thus the black man who asserts his n?gritude
conduct;
by
a revolutionary
movement
himself
in
immediately
places
to meditate,
the position
of having
to
either because
he wishes
in himself
certain objectively
established
traits of the
recognize
or because
African
he hopes
to discover
the Es
civilizations,
sence of blackness
in the well
re
of his heart. Thus
subjectivity
of

19

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

of the self with


the relation
the self; the source of all
from
the
the
which
worker
had to disen
very poetry
poetry,
man
to
asks his colored
who
black
brothers
The
gage himself.
to try to present
to them an ex
is going
"find
themselves"
appears:

emplary image of their N?gritude


to grasp

soul

wants

it. He

look into his own

and will

to be both

a beacon

a mirror;

and

the first revolutionary will be the harbinger of the black soul,


the herald?half
prophet and half follower?who will tear
Blackness out of himself in order to offer it to the world; in
brief,
more,

be a poet in the literal sense of "vates."


in common
has nothing
with
poetry

he will
black

effusions: it is functional, it answers a need which


terms.

precise

Leaf

an

through

of

anthology

Further
heartfelt

is defined in
contemporary

white poetry: you will find a hundred different subjects, de


the mood
of the poet, depending
and interests
upon
pending
the
his
I am
his
In
which
and
country.
upon
anthology
position
to you here,
there is only one subject
that all the
introducing
more
or
to
to
less
Haiti
From
treat,
poets attempt
successfully.
a
reveal
is
soul.
there
idea:
the
Black
black
po
Cayenne,
single
it announces

etry is evangelic,
discovered.

good

news:

Blackness

to fish for

this n?gritude,
which
they wish
not
the soul's
under
does
fall
abyssal depths,
The
herald
in the soul, nothing
is gratuitous.
However,

has

gone
law which
those

cept

through
blackness
meditative

he

white

schools,
the oppressed
has stolen
himself

through
forbids

had

having
has passed
state. But

some

contact

from
at

re

in their

gaze all by itself:


of the black soul
a brazen
in accordance
with
ex
arms
man
to possess
any
from
with

the
white
of

the
the

has been

immediacy
same time,
In choosing

he

it is
oppressor;
that his
culture
existence
has more

to
or

the
less

to see what
he is, he
his n?gritude.
on
no longer
And
himself.
he
co-incides
with
split,
from himself
exiled
it is because he was already
the other hand,
to reveal himself.
He
therefore
this need
that he discovered

ceased

to live

has become

begins by exile. It is a double exile: the exile of his body offers


a magnificent image of the exile of his heart; he is in Europe
most

of the time,

in the cold,

in the middle

of gray

crowds;

20

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

he

Black Orpheus
dreams
he

of Haiti.

of Port-au-Prince,
in exile;
already

was

out of Africa

the

had

them. And

and dispersed
those

But

slavers
were

in Port-au-Prince,
torn his
fathers

all of the poems

in Africa
this book?except
us
A hemisphere:
in the
show
the same mystical
geography.
concentric
three
the
first
of
circles?ex
foreground?forming
then comes the daz
tends the land of exile, colorless Europe;
in

zling

of

circle

the

which
dance
the
of childhoood,
is
the
the last circle
world's
Africa,

around Africa;
of all black
navel,
pole
like a snake's
skin, Africa
more

black

but

like

the "eternal

rays;

with

boulevards

attainment,

beyond
invisible

burnt,
oily
and tufted;
and
being

Africa,
rain, torrid
a flame,
between

poetry?dazzling
of fire and

flickering
real than

Africa?phantom

written

and

Islands

Roundelay

nothingness,
but absent,

which

disintegrating
an imaginary
Africa,

cops"
with
its
Europe
The
continent.

extraordinary good luck of black poetry lies in the fact that the
anxieties

of the colonized

native

have

own

their

and

grandiose

into deeply
obvious
need only to be gone
and to
symbols which
be meditated
the
upon:
exile,
slavery,
couple
Africa-Europe
and the great Manichaeistic
division
of the world
into black and
white.

This

black

soul

ancestral
is an Africa

the

cold buildings
but
ever-present

the other exile:


exile represents
bodily
the negro,
from which
in the midst

of white

culture

concealed

n?gritude

and

technics,
haunts
him,

him; he himself rubs up against its silky wing;


is spread

throughout

him

like

his

searching

is exiled.
rubs

the
of
An

against

it palpitates and
and

memory

his

loftiest demands, like his shrouded, betrayed childhood, and


like the childhood of his race and the call of the earth, like
the swarming
of insects and
the pure legacy
of his
to
his
truncated
ought
unify
like

at his

squarely
white
culture?its

n?gritude,
silence,

the indivisible
ancestors,
life. But
it vanishes

its words,

and
if he

of Nature,
simplicity
that
like the Ethics
turns around

in smoke;
its mores?rise

to look

the walls

of

up between

it and him:
Give me back my black dolls, so that I may play with
My instinct's simple games

them

21
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
that I may
cover

remain

up my

Review

in the shadow of its laws

courage

my audacity
feel me

as me

me renewed

I was yesterday

through what

yesterday
without

complexity
yesterday

when

the
have

they

However,
it will
down;
themes

the

uprooting

hour

ransacked

the

. . .

came

that was

space

mine

be broken
prison must
some day:
to Africa
to return
be necessary
thus
to the native
and
of return
of
re-descent
country
the walls

of

this

culture

into the glaring hell of the black soul are indissolubly mixed
A quest
is involved
up in the vates of n?gritude.
here, a sys
an
and
tematic
"asc?se"1
by a continual
accompanied
stripping
I shall call this poetry
And
effort of investigation.
"Orphic"
into himself makes me think
the negro's
tireless descent
because
to claim Eurydice
of Orpheus
from Pluto. Thus,
through
going
an exceptional
stroke of poetic good
luck, it is by letting himself
on the ground
man
like a possessed
fall into trances, by rolling
or
his regrets
of his angers,
tormented
by singing
by himself,
"civili
his wounds,
his life torn between
his hates, by exhibiting
zation"

and

his

in short,
substratum;
most
is
certain
the black poet

old

most

black

that
lyrical,
poetry:
great collective
by speaking
he seems
it is when
for all negroes;
of our culture
and
acquired,
ture taking-up
In

is the most

by the serpents
for he then un

revolutionary,
he has
the European
knowledge
systematically
the great fu
this spiritual destruction
symbolizes
their
black men will
of arms by which
destroy

this
suffice to clarify
will
single example
most
ethnic
minorities
the twentieth
century,
A

sionately
1

only
smothered

to ruin

dertakes

chains.

that he

by becoming
a
of creating
of himself,
he speaks

asc?se:

endeavored
the

ascetic's

to
movement

resuscitate
of

their

int?riorisation,

national
(translator's

last remark.
have

pas

languages
note)

22

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
for their
while
struggling
one is Irish or Hungarian,
of
has the benefit
which

be able to say that


to a collectivity
belong
au
economic
and political

independence.
one must

a broad
one must
Irish,
think in Irish. The

to be

To

Irish, which
of a Society
specific
to the untranslatable
locutions
of its lan
correspond
exactly
are forced
to
The
of n?gritude
fact that the prophets
guage.
means
that there is a certain risk
their gospel
in French
write
to reject
of dangerously
the efforts of black men
down
slowing
but

tonomy;
means
above

all:

also

think

traits

to the four corners of the


been dispersed
tutelege. Having
earth by the slave trade, black men have no common
language;
to unite,
in order to incite the oppressed
they must
necessarily
of the oppressor's
And French
is
rely on the words
language.
our

the language that will

furnish the black poet with

at least within

audience,
in this goose-pimply
and which Mallarm?

language?pale
said was "the

all

and
neutral

an attenuation
spirit demands
this
brilliant
color"?in
excessively

colonization.
like our

It is

cold

skies,
par excel
language
of variegation
and

which
is
language
are
Rab?arivell
Laleau,
Diop,
skies and of their hearts:
it is
that they can communicate;
like

dead

half

of French

since our

lence
of

the limits

the largest

for them, that Damas,


to pour the fire of their

going

this language
alone
through
the sixteenth-century
scholars who
can meet
in Latin,
black men
only
man
that the white
has prepared
to be the eternal
arranged
is there?always
there?even

each other only


understood
on that trap-covered
ground
the colonist
for them:
has

mediator

the colonized;
he
is absent, even in the most
secret meetings.
are ideas, when
And
since words
the negro de
French
he
in
that
French
clares
rejects
culture, he accepts with
one hand what he rejects with
the other; he sets up the enemy's
when

between

he

in himself,
not
like a crusher. This would
thinking-apparatus
matter:
this
that
and
thou
except
syntax
vocabulary?forged
sands of miles
away in another
epoch to answer other needs and
to designate
to furnish
other objects?are
unsuitable
him with
the means
of speaking
about himself,
his own anxieties,
his own
hopes.

The

French

language

and French

thought

are analytical.

What would happen if the black spirit were above all syntheti
23
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
cal? The

Review

term "n?gritude"
is one of the few black
ugly
to our dictionary.
But after all, if this "n?gritude"
or at least a describable
it must
subsume
concept,

rather

contributions
is a definable
other more

to the imme
concepts which
elementary
correspond
ideas directly
con
fundamental
involved
with
negro
are the words
sciousness:
but where
to describe
them? How
one understands
well
the Haitian
poet's
complaint:
diate

does not correspond

obsessing heart which

This
To

my

nor

language,

to my

customs,

And on which encroach, like a clinging-root,


Borrowed feelings and the customs
Of Europe, feel this suffering
And

this despair?equal

to no

other?

Of ever taming with words from France


This heart which came to me from S?n?gal.
It is not true, however,
that the black man expresses
himself
in a "foreign"
since
he
is
French
from
child
language,
taught
at ease when he thinks in the terms
hood and since he is perfectly
of a technician,
one must
of a scholar or of a politician.
Rather,
the
about
but
that
difference
speak
patent
separates what
slight
he says from what
he would
like to say, whenever
he speaks
about himself.
It seems to him that a Northern
Spirit steals his
or less what
ideas from him, bends them slightly
to mean more
he wanted;

that

white

drink

words

his

thoughts

drinks blood. If he suddenly gorges himself,


self

together

and

takes

a step

backward,

there

like

sand

if he pulls him
are

the

sounds

lying prostrate in front of him?strange: half signs and half


things. He will not speak his n?gritude with precise, efficacious
words which hit the target every time. He will not speak his
in prose. As everyone
every poetic experience
knows,
n?gritude
has its origin
in this feeling
of frustration
that one has when
a
to be a means
with
that is supposed
confronted
of
language
direct
The
what

communication.
reaction
Bataille

believe

of
calls

the

is in effect
frustrated
speaker
by prose
the holocaust
of words.
As long as we can

that a pre-established

harmony

governs

the relationship

24
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
and Being, we use words without
seeing them,
with blind trust;
they are sensory organs, mouths,
hands, win
a first frus
dows open on the world. As soon as we experience
we
see
the
falls
whole
this
system,
beyond us;
tration,
chattering
out-of-order
mechanism
than an upset,
whose
it is no more
existence
arms are still flailing
to indicate
in emptiness;
in
on the foolish
one fell swoop we pass judgment
of
business
a word

between

is in essence prose,
that language
things; we understand
naming
erect in front
and that prose
stands
is in essence
failure;
Being
to catch it, we
of us like a tower of silence, and if we still want
can do so only
in an intentional
silence:
"evoke,
through
never direct,
tu" by allusive words,
the object
reduc
shadow,
one has better
to the same silence."2 No
stated
ing themselves
to
is an incantatory
in
that poetry
and
suggest
attempt
Being
on
the
of
the
word:
his
by
vibratory
by insisting
disappearance
us
words mad,
verbal
the poet makes
by making
impotence,
this chaos which
cancels itself out, there are
suspect that beyond
silent densities;
since we cannot keep quiet, we must make
silence
with

From

language.
of French

to

Mallarm?

goal
poetry
destruction
of language.
are
themselves
knocking

seems
A

poem

about,

the

the final
Surrealists,
to have
this auto
been
is a dark room where words

to me

quite mad.

Collisions

in the air:

they ignite each other with their fire and fall down in flames.
that we must
situate the efforts of the
It is in this perspective
answer
a
ruse with
the colonist's
"black
They
evangelists."
ruse: since the oppressor
is present
similar but inverse
in the

very language that they speak, they will speak this language in
order

to destroy
it. The
contemporary
European
to give
in order
them back
words

dehumanize

black herald
them,
them

break

is going
their

with
with
with
2
Mallarm?, Magie

usual

to de-Frenchifize
associations,

poet tries to
to nature;
the

them; he will

he will

violently

crush
couple

little steps of caterpillar rain


little steps like mouthfuls of milk
little steps like ball-bearings
(Edition de la Pl?iade, p. 400).
25

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Review

The Massachusetts

with little steps like seismic shocks


in the soil stride like gaps of stars8
Yams
their whiteness
does he
regurgitated
a solemn,
sacred
of this ruined
them, making
language
adopt
can
the
black
Poetry
through
Poetry.
Only
superlanguage,
men of Tananarive
the black men
of Port-au
and of Cayenne,
each other
in
communicate
with
and of Saint-Louis,
Prince
Only

when

private.

And

n?gritude,
sive words,

they

have

since French

lacks

terms

is silence,

since n?gritude
never
direct,

to define
concepts
poets will use "allu

and

these

to the same si
reducing
Short-circuits
of
behind
it.
lence"
language:
mute
we
a
idol.
fall of words,
the flaming
great black
glimpse
seems
that
It is not only the black man's
poetic
self-portrayal
of ex
the means
to me;
it is also his personal
way of utilizing
even
to
do
it:
him
incites
at
His
his
position
disposal.
pression
in order

themselves

to evoke

before he thinks of writing poetry, in him, the light of white

is nowhere more
and altered. This
is refracted,
polarized
terms?"white-black"
than in his use of two connected
manifest
and night"?
cover both the great cosmic division?"day
?that
words

human

the native
between
on
a
hierarchical
based

and

conflict

and

the

But

it is a connection

the

colonist.

system: by giving
lan
this term, the teacher also gives him a hundred
the negro
over
the
consecrate
man's
the
white
which
habits
rights
guage
to
to
snow"
like
"white
will
learn
black man. The
say
negro
a
a
of
to
the
blackness
of
of
indicate
look,
soul,
innocence,
speak
he accuses himself,
of a deed. As soon as he opens his mouth,
it
if he upsets
the hierarchy.
And
in upsetting
unless he persists
can you imagine
the
he is already
in French}
strange
poetizing:
or
of innocence"
like "the blackness
savor that an expression
savor
the
have
is
for
That
us?
of virtue" would
"the darkness

which
we

we

taste

on every

Your

round,

page

of this book,

for example,

when,

read:

this white
C?saire,

Les

armes

shining,

black

satin

breasts

. . .

smile
miraculeuses:

tam-tam

II.

26

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
of eyes
in the

face's
in me

awaken
deaf

rhythms

which
our

shadow
this

evening

. . .

intoxicate,

there

in Guin?e,

sisters

black and naked


and inspire inme
this evening
black twilights heavy with sensual anxiety
for
the soul of the black country where the ancients
are

sleeping

lives and speaks


this evening
in uneasy
your

Throughout

back

strength,
. . .

along

the

small

of

this poem, black is color; better still, light;

its

our habits;
radiance
dissolves
the black
country
are
a dark hell:
not
a
where
the ancients
is
it
is
land of
sleeping
sun and fire. Then
in
another
the
connection,
again,
superiority
over black does not express
of white
that
only the superiority
claims to have over the native: more profoundly,
the colonist
it
a universal
as our night
of day as well
adoration
expresses
diffuse

soft

In this sense, these black men


also are universal.
terrors, which
are re-establishing
the hierarchy
they have
just upset. They
to be poets
don't want
and de
of nighty poets of vain revolt
the
of dawn;
spair: they give
promise
they greet
the

transparent

dawn

of a new

day.

At last, the black man discovers, through the pen, his baleful
sense

of foreboding:
Nigger

one

of them,

and

then

Deliver

black like misery


cries

another,
me

out:

from my blood's night


27

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

to contain
black
is found
all Evil
the word
and all
covers
an
two
it
almost
tension
unbearable
between
up
Good,
classifications:
solar hierarchy
and racial hierarchy.
contradictory
Thus

an extraordinary
like self-destructive
poetry,
thereby
from
the
hands
of
the
and
there
objects
Duchamp
Surrealists;
a secret whiteness
in white,
is a secret blackness
in black, a fixed
It gains

flickering of Being and of Non-being


expressed

as in this poem

as well

which is perhaps nowhere

by C?saire:

statue, a stone in its fore


My tall wounded
inattentive
head; my great
day flesh with
pitiless spots, my great night flesh with
spots.

day

The poet will go even further; he writes:


Our

faces like the true operative

beautiful

of negation.

power

this abstract eloquence


Behind
Lautr?amont
is seen
evoking
an extremely
some
to
sense
to
and
subtle
bold
attempt
give
two
to
the poetic
of the
black skin and
realize
faces of
synthesis

night. When

David Diop

he makes

says that the negro

is "black like
of

black

represent
misery,"
deprivation
into this image more
C?saire
and goes
develops
is no longer
is not
it is refusal.
Black
absence,

But

light.

deeply:
color,

night
it is the

destruction of this borrowed clarity which falls from the white


sun. The

destroy

negro

revolutionary

be complete nudity:
others'

Truth.

Black

haunt our days?embody


patiently

gnaws

is negation

because

in order to build his Truth,


faces?these

night memories

the dark work of Negativity

at concepts.

Thus,

by a reversal

recalls that of the humiliated negro?insulted


when
he asserts
nigger"
that establishes
darkness

he wishes

to

he must first

which

which

which
curiously

and called "dirty

is the privative
aspect of
rights?it
is the color of night.
its value. Liberty
am
of language,
symbolism,
magic

his

Destructions,
autodaf?s
all the negative
of concepts:
bivalence
aspects of modern
poetry
are here. But
of some gratuitous
it is not a matter
game. The
28
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
black man's

his original

position,

the alienation

"rending,"

that

a foreign way of thinking imposes on him, all oblige him to


as a negro,?or,
if you prefer,
his existential
reconquer
unity
a
his
the original
of
"asc?se,"
gradual
purity
plan?through
a point
the language
stage. N?gritude?like
liberty?is
beyond
a matter
it
is
and an ultimate
of departure
of
goal:
making
a matter
to the mediate,
of
pass from the immediate
n?gritude
man
must
The
it.
therefore
find
death
in
black
thematicismg
white

culture

Platonic

in order

to be reborn

whose

a black
death

body
and mystical
dialectical
a method.
But this method

philosopher
in truth. This

reborn

necessarily
implies
as a set of rules to be used
comes

with

embraces

one with

successive

whoever

transformations

in directing
it;
lead

applies
which

soul, like the


in order to be

return

to origins

is not presented
the spirit. Rather,
it be
it is the dialectical
law of
to coincidence
the negro
nor
of his knowing,
from himself,
but rather

a matter

in n?gritude.
It is not
himself
himself
of his ecstatically
away
tearing
and becoming
what he is.
of both discovering
means
are two convergent
of arriving
There

with

mordial

simplicity
The
poets

of existence:

one

is objective,
sometimes

at

this

the other

pri
sub

use one, some


in our anthology
jective.
times the other, and sometimes
both of them together.
In effect,
an objective
is
that
there exists
by the
n?gritude
expressed
the
and
dances
of
chants
African
As a
mores,
arts,
populaces.

spiritual exercise, the poet will prescribe allowing himself to be


fascinated by primitive rhythms, letting his thoughts run in
of the poems
included
poetry. Many
because
from
borrow
the
they
night
a percussive
time tambourine
is some
rhythm which
players,
sometimes
times sharp and regular,
torrential
and bounding.
a
The poetic act, then, is dance of the soul; the poet turns round
forms of black
traditional
are called tams-tams,

here

and round like a dervish until he faints; he has established his


ancestors' time in himself, he feels it flowing with its peculiar
violent pulls; he hopes to "find" himself in this rhythmic
I shall say that he tries to make himself
"possessed"
pulsation;
he hopes
his
that the echoes of his tam
n?gritude;
by
people's
come to awaken
tam will
timeless
instincts sleeping within
him.
29
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

one will get the impres


this collection,
Upon
through
leafing
a genre
sion that the tam-tam
tends to become
of black poetry,
as
or
a
was
our
sonnet
the
the
ode
of
genre
just
poetry. Others,
like Rabemananjara,
will
be inspired
by royal proclamations,
still others will draw from the popular well
of the Hain-tenys.
The

center

calm

this maelstrom

of

is the poetry of Birago Diop,


and

it comes

is at rest because

alone

oral

tradition.

thing contorted,
aim at becoming
ing from it. But
ancestors

where

Almost
taut

of rhythms,

chants,

in all its majestic


directly
the other

all

and

from Griot

about

attempts
them

shouts,

it

simplicity:
narratives
some

have
because

desperate
they
a part of folkloric
rather than emanat
poetry
however
far he may be from "the black country
the
is closer than we to the
black man
sleep,"

as Mallarm?
creates Gods."
great period when,
says, "the word
our
resume
It is practically
to
some close
for
poets
impossible
ness with
ten
traditions:
centuries
of
poetry
popular
scholarly
such
from
folkloric
traditions;
furthermore,
:
at
we
is
the
could only imitate
up
very best,
drying
inspiration
its simplicity
on the
from a distance.
The
black men
of Africa,
are still in the great period of mythical
and
contrary,
fecundity
are
not
as
black
their
poets
French-language
just using
myths
a form of diversion
as we use our
allow
epic poems:4
they
to be spellbound
themselves
by them so that at the end of the
separate

them

incantation,
This
is why

surge forth.
evoked?may
or
of "objective
poetry" magic,

n?gritude?magnificently
I call this method

charm.

on

C?saire,

the

contrary,

chose

to backtrack

into

himself.

Since this Eurydice will disappear in smoke if Black Orpheus


turns around

to look back on her, he will

the royal

descend

road

of his soul with his back turned on the bottom of the grotto ; he
will

descend

you,
daily
4

below

I have

placed
and
activities

Sartre

uses

words

and meanings,?"in
order to think
on
all words
the mountain-of-pity"?below

"chansons"

to
is referring,
of course,
Geste,
(translator's
note)

the

plan

for what

of "repetition,"

we

the Medieval

have
French

translated
epic

even

as
poems,

below

"epic
poems"
the Chansons

of
the

; he
?e

30

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
his back turned and his eyes
of revolt, with
to
touch
with
his feet the black water
of
closed,
finally
in it.5 Desire
and to let himself
drown
and desire
dreams
like a tidal wave;
and dream will
rise up snarling
they will
first

barrier

reefs

in order

like

dance

words

make

flotsam

and

them

throw

pell-mell,

on the shore.

shattered,

and just as the old geography


"Words go beyond themselves;
is done for, the high and the low (words) do not allow diversion
either

towards

operate

on

. . .On

earth.

towards

flexible

strangely

of an organism

Level
and

or

heaven
a

at

range

one

the

contrary,
they
on the
gaseous

level:

both solid and liquid, black and white

day

night."6

the old surrealistic method


writ
(automatic
recognizes
a
an
is
it
method:
like
presupposes
mysticism,
ing,
apprentice
a start along
One must
the way).
dive under
ship, exercises,
crust of reality,
the superficial
of common
sense, of reasoning
One

to

in order

touch

the

bottom
of the soul and
very
of desire:
desire which
makes
of
man a refusal of everything
and a love of everything;
desire,
a call
laws and of the possible,
the radical negation
of natural
to miracles;
its
mad
cosmic
desire which,
energy,
by
plunges
reason,
awaken

man

the

breast of Nature
and, at the same
seething
the
above Nature
affirmation
of his
through
to be unsatisfied.
not
C?saire
is
the
first
Furthermore,
to take this road. Before
L?ro
Etienne
had
founded
him,

back

into

lifts

him

time,
Right

forces

timeless

the

negro
"was
says Senghor,
L?gitime
Defense.
^L?gitime
D?fense,"
a cultural movement
more
than a review.
the
from
Starting
Marxist
of the society of the "Islands,"
it discovered,
analysis
0

seems

Sartre
not

structed
retrieved
6
The

to

Eurydice
French

to hare
look

confused

from

his

he was

while

back

Pluto,

(translator's
was

"automatic

writing"
an
we have
to give
tried
English
simply
care to consult
French
who
the original
c'est

d?fassent,
tent fas
traire,
Niveau

de
un

bien

distraire,

vers

un

c'en

ciel
est

et une

fait

curieusement

?tagement
de Vorganisme
gazeux

solide

aussi
res

since

here,

images

from

ascending
note)
so

de

fir able
et
liquide,

s'of ?re
blanc

its sense.

of

as follows:

in

he

had

For

that
those

(tLes mots

se

le bas ne fermet
. . . Au con
g?ografhie.
au niveau.
r?el mais
Au

le haut

que
la vieille

was

untranslatable

completely

affroximation
it runs
text,
terre

Orpheus
Hades,
after

et

et noir

jour

et nuit."

31

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
in the Antilles,
centuries.
from

of African

descendants

been kept in the dulling


It affirmed

Review
negro

that

surrealism
could
only
and express him in his entireness."
if one compares
L?ro
with C?saire,

his

help but be struck by their dissimilarities,


us to measure

allow

had

deliver

him

radar with

one

which

are
go

student
beyond

one

cannot

and this comparison

a black revolu
was
the pre
as a "miracu
of surrealism
a sort of
for reconnaissance,

the abyss that prevents


white
surrealism.
L?ro

from utilizing
tionary
the exploitation
cursor; he invented
lous weapon"
and an instrument
poems
do not

who

taboos

However,
may

slaves,

condition of the proletarian for three

probes

exercises,
themselves;

the depths
of the abyss. But his
are
mere
imitations:
they
they
in on each
rather,
they close

other:
The

ancient heads of hair


Glue to the branches floors of empty seas
Where
your body is only a memory
Where
Spring trims its nails
Helix of your smile thrown far away
On

the houses

we

will

have

nothing

to do with

. . .

"The
helix
of your
"the
trims
its
smile,"
spring which
in these the preciousness
nails": we recognize
and gratuitous
ness of surrealistic
that consists
the eternal
of
process
imagery,
a
two
or
between
unrelated
sep
throwing
bridge
extremely
arated

terms

and

hoping?without
really
believing?that
uncover
some hidden
the dice" will
aspect of
seem
me
not
to
It
in
does
this
either
poem or in the
that,
Being.
man:
at the
L?ro
the
demands
of
the
liberation
black
others,
a
to
most
he
claim
of
the
liberation
very
lays
categorical
imagi
no combination
in this completely
abstract
of
game,
nation;
even remotely.
evokes Africa
If these poems were
words
taken
this

"throw

of

out of the anthology


I
and the name of their author hidden,
or
at
not
to
white
attribute
them
would
all,
black,
defy anyone
or Le
to La Revolution
to a European
Surr?aliste
contributor
Minotaure.
race and

The
condition,

purpose
beyond

of surrealism
class,

behind

is to rediscover?beyond
the fire of language?

32

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
are no longer opposed
to any
which
silent darknesses
even
to
all
and
and
because
night
day
opposites
day,
thing,
one might
are blended
in them and suppressed;
consequently,
of the sur
and the impersonality
speak of the impassiveness
a
as
and
Parnassian
is
there
realist poem,
impassiveness
just

dazzling

not

impersonality.
on the contrary,
and wheels
bursts
A poem
by C?saire,
suns turning and exploding
into new suns
like a rocket;
around
It is not a ques
come out of it; it is a perpetual
going-beyond.
tion of the poem becoming
part of the calm unity of opposites;
one of the opposites
in the "black-white"
but rather of making
a
to the other. The
in
its
like
opposition
phallus
couple expand
these words

into

thrown

the air

like

stones

from

density

of

volcano,

as being against
is defined
which
is found in n?gritude,
is not all
C?saire
What
and colonization.
destroys
to
he
what
but rather white
culture;
brings
light is not

Europe
culture

the revolutionary
but rather
for everything
aspirations
is
he
in his very depths
touches
what
the oppressed
negro;
a
concrete
of
form
certain
not the spirit but
humanity.
specific,
one can speak here about engaged
and even
With
this in mind,
desire
of

directed

automatic

intervention
translate

the

same

within himself
fixed

writing,
because

but

torrid

not

obsession.

is any meditative

there

because

the words

and
The

images
perpetually
surrealist
finds
white

the trigger; C?saire finds within himself


of demands

and

L?ro's

words

the
are

feeling.
ex
around
themes
vague
through
general
organized
a
are
C?saire's
words
and
of
ties;
relaxing
logical
pansion
his
and
cemented
each
other
furious
by
passion.
pressed
against
the most
the most
and between
Between
comparisons
daring
inflexibility

feebly

terms, runs a secret thread of hate and hope.


widely
separated
thrown
For
"the helix
smile
far
of your
compare
example,
a
is
the product
of
free play of the imagination
away"?which
as well
as an invitation
to revery?with
and the radium mines buried in the abyss of my
will jump by grains
into the feeding-trough
of birds

innocence

33
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
and

the

will

be

gathered
in which

stars'

stere

common

the

Review

name

of fire-wood

from the alluvium

of the singing veins of night

the "disjecta
membra"
of
as to allow
the supposition

ganized

are so or
the vocabulary
a
that there is
black "Art

Po?tique."
Or

read:
Our

Also

beautiful

faces like the true operative power of negation.

read:
Seas lousy with islands cracking in the roses' fingers
and my lightning-struck
flame-thrower
body intact.

Here we find the apotheosis of the fleas of black misery jump


in a stream
of light,
islands
hair,
ing in the water's
cracking
rose
of the celestial
under
delouser:
dawn with
the fingers
colored
the dawn of Greek
and Mediterranean
culture
fingers,
a
?snatched
black
thief
from the sacrosanct Homeric
poems by
?whose
enslaved
princess's
a
Louverture
Toussaint
by
of the black sea;
parasites
is metamorphosed,
which
of white

fingernails
in order

are suddenly
to crack the

controlled

triumphant
rebels and
suddenly
that savage weapon
the weapon
the
of scientists,

the dawn, which


opens fire like

the flame-thrower,
men,
strikes
of executioners,

the tall black Titan


with
its
weapon
to
in
the
and
arises
intact
eternal
order
he
and
white
begin
fire,
on Europe
In C?saire,
the great
surrealist
and heaven.
assault
and is
it takes on its definitive
is realized,
tradition
meaning
movement?is
taken from
surrealism?that
European
destroyed:
man
a
turns
them and
it against
Black
who
the Europeans
by
out else
I have pointed
function.
defined
it a rigorously
gives
shut
itself
of the proletariat
how the whole
where
completely
sur
Reason:
in
of
the destructive
off from
poetry
Europe,
realism
given

and pales, rejected


by
languishes
of their own blood.
it a transfusion

those who
But

could

at the very

have
mo

34
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
ment

it is losing
onto
grafted

when

contact

Antilles,

it develops
lies in his having
originality
as one
a
as
negro,
anxiety
tion;

it is, in the
the Revolution,
Revolu
of the universal
somber

flower.

his powerful,
as a militant

directed

C?saire's

concentrated

individual,
and
destructive,
metaphysical
were
at the moment
and Aragon
when Eluard
failing
verse. And
content
to
their
negritude
finally,
political

this world

into

with

another branch
into an enormous

poetry
to give

of

oppressed,

the most

free

a cry of pain, of love and


the surrealist
of ob
tradition

like

from C?saire
is snatched
object
of hate. Here
again he follows

do not describe
words
they
n?gritude,
poetry. C?saire's
jective
not
like a
do
do not designate
copy it from the outside
it, they
a model:
it under our
they create it; they compose
painter with
can
a
and
be observed
it is
very eyes: henceforth
thing which
learned;
objective
soul from
to

the subjective
we
method
himself

interiorize

N?gritude
night;

which

method

about

he has

earlier:

chosen

he

joins the
the black

ejects
spoke
at the very moment
when
others are
is the same
in both
the final
result

trying
cases.

it;
at
tam-tam
in the streets of Dakar
is the far-away
some
shouts from
Haitian
voo-doo
cellar window,
slid

ing along

the roadway;

level with

the Congolese

mask;

it is

but

also this poem by C?saire, this slobbery, bloody poem full of


a cut-up worm.
This
double
of the
and excretion
beats out the rhythm
spasm of absorption
black heart on every page of this collection.
is this n?gritude,
What
sole anxiety
of these
then, at present,

phlegm,

twisting

in the dust

like

It must
that a
of this book?
first be stated
sole subject
poets,
white man
could hardly
since he has no
speak about it suitably,
lack words
inner experience
of it and since European
languages
to describe
of

pages
But this
cated

that

it. I ought
collection

this

introduction

then

to let the reader

and draw
would

be

his

own

encounter
conclusions
if, after

it in the
about

having
incomplete
the quest for the Black Grail
represented?both
most
and in its methods?the
intention
authentic

original
thesis of revolutionary
show that this complex

it.

indi
in its

syn
I did not
and poetic anxiety,
aspirations
I shall
notion
is essentially
pure Poetry.
35

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
limit myself
of testimonies

therefore
a cluster

themes.

cipal
poem
which

Senghor
its theme

is less

Review

to examining
as
these poems
objectively
out some of their prin
and to pointing
the n?gritude
of a
says: "What makes

than its style,


the emotional
warmth
to
transmutes
the
into the
which
word
words,
gives
Word."
It could not be more
that
is
stated
explicitly
n?gritude
a state nor a definite
or
neither
vices
and
of
virtues
ensemble
of intellectual
and moral
but rather a certain affective
qualities,
life

attitude

the world.

towards
has

psychology

Since

the beginning
scholastic

its great

renounced

of this century,
We
distinctions.

no longer believe that the "facts" of the soul are divided

into

or actions,
or
or
volitions
sentiments
knowledge
perceptions,
We
know
that a feeling
is a definite
blind passiveness.
way of
our
the
world
around
it in
with
that
us,
rapport
establishing
a certain comprehension
of this universe.
It is a tension
volves
of

the

a way of going
and of another,
a
in short,
facts of experience;
plan quite like
act. To use Heidegger's
is
N?gritude
language,

a choice

soul,
the

of oneself

beyond
the voluntary

raw

the Negro's

being-in-the-world.
here is what

Furthermore,

C?saire

tells us about

it:

n?gritude is not a stone with its deafness flung


out against the clamor of the day
on the
My n?gritude is not a dead speck of water
dead eye of the earth
My

my

n?gritude

is neither

tower

nor

cathedral

it plunges into the red flesh of the ground


it plunges into the ardent flesh of the sky
it perforates the opaque pressure of its righteous

N?gritude

patience.

is portrayed in these beautiful lines of verse more

as a frame of mind.
But this act is an inner de
a question
the goods
of this
of taking
a
is
it
and transforming
in one's hands
question
them;

as an act than
termination:
world

it is not

of existing in the middle


universe
nical.

For

the white

of the world. The

relation with

an adaptation.
But this adaptation
to possess
is to transform.
the white man,
uses
he does
instruments
which
worker

remains

is not

the
tech

To

be sure,

not

possess.

36

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
are his own: if it is true that the per
at least his techniques
for
the
inventions
in
of European
major
responsible
comes
at
the
from
the
middle
trades
least
classes,
mainly
dustry
seem to the white workers
of carpenter,
cabinet-maker,
potter,

But

sonnel

to be a true

the fact that the orientation


of
despite
tends to remove
their "joy
in work"
great capitalist
production
to say that the black worker
from them. But
it is not enough
uses instruments
are lent to him;
are also lent
which
techniques
heritage,

him.
refers

C?saire
Those

who

to his black
have

brothers

invented

neither

as:
nor

powder

compass

those who have never tamed either steam or electricity


those

But

who

not

have

this

haughty
could
what

situation:
source

of wealth.

Nature

as simple

the

explored

seas

and

the

sky

. . .

reverses
of non-technicalness
the
as
a
a
becomes
pass
deficiency
positive
with Nature
technical
reveals
rapport

claim

quantity,

inertia,

exteriority:

nature

dies.

his haughty refusal to be homo fabery the negro gives

By

it life

of one of the members


of the "man
again. As if the passiveness
nature"
Ac
the other's
necessarily
couple
produced
activity.
not
is
since
it
the
flesh
tually, n?gritude
passiveness,
"perforates
of the

sky and of the earth":


imitation
pears like an active
first of all an act on oneself.
immobilizes
on

himself

a bird-charmer,
come to
and things
this fake tree. A magic
of
inveigling
silence and rest?is
involved
here: the white
like

the branches

perch
the world?through

it is "patience,"
and patience
ap
of passiveness.
act is
The
negro's
The
black man
stands erect and

of

man, by acting first of all on Nature, loses himself when he


loses Nature; the negro, by acting first of all on himself, claims
to win Nature

Seized,

while

they

winning
abandon

himself.
themselves

to the

essence

of

every thing
ignorant of the surfaces but seized by the movement
every thing

of

37
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
but playing

heedless of counting,
the

truly
porous

sons

elder

to all

the

movement

Upon
famous
lished

of

game

. . .

from the very

the world.

C?saire

by Bergson.

the world

of

flesh palpitating

this, one
between

reading
distinction

the world's

the world

of

breaths

flesh of the world's

Review

Omniscient

can

hardly

help
and
intelligence
us
calls
rightly

and

na?ve

conquerors.

thinking
intuition

of

the

estab

. . .

all. But he only


knows
tools, the white man
scratches
the surface of things; he is unaware
of the duration
of
unaware
on
the
of
life.
is
contrary,
compre
N?gritude,
things,
instinctive
secret
The black man's
hension
through
congeniality.
of his

Because

is that

the

sources

of his

existence

and

the

roots

of Being

are

identical.
If one wanted

a sociological
to give
of this
interpretation
an
one
that
would
is here
say
poetry
agriculturist
metaphysic,
an
to
not
true
it
is
that
the
prose. Actually,
engineer
opposed
no
man
the
has
black
between
any human
rapport
techniques:
is always
in one way or
and the exterior world
technical
group
I shall say that C?saire
another.
And
is imprecise:
inversely,
a carpet
the
earth
like
Saint Exup?ry's
below
folding
airplane
is first of all
of disclosure.
the black man
is a means
However,
a peasant;
is
it
technique
"righteous
agricultural
patience";
to
trusts in life; it waits. To plant
is
the earth; after
impregnate
atom of
remain motionless
and watch:
"each
that, you must
is a chance

each instant brings


forth a
ripe fruit,"
than man gave, whereas
the worker
finds
as
as
much
in the manufactured
he put into it;
only
product
man grows
his
wheat:
to minute
with
from
minute
he
along
more
himself
and
becomes
he
intervenes
goes beyond
golden;
silence

hundred

for

times more

in this watchful wait before the fragile swelling belly, only to


is a microcosm
protect. Ripe wheat
for
and rains was needed
sun, wind
is both

the most

natural

thing

and

the cooperation
because
of
a blade of wheat
it to grow;
the most
chance.
improbable

38
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
have

Techniques

the white
but the black
peasant,
of the earth, the world's
sperm.
his work
is the yearly
patience;

contaminated
the great male

remains

peasant
His
existence

is great vegetal
coitus. Creating
and nourished
he
of
because
repetition
holy
to
creates. To
to
to
nature.
is
make
love
with
eat,
till,
plant,

The

sexual

these

of

pantheism

is undoubtedly

poets

what

will

impress us first of all: it is in this that they join the dances and
the phallic
Oho
May
For,

rites of the Negro-Africans.


!Congo lying in your bed of forests, queen of tamed Africa
the phalli of the mountains carry your banner high
through my head, through my tongue, through my
you

belly,

writes

are

a woman,

And:

Senghor.

and so I shall mount


the

and

gleaming

thighs

the

of

. . .

day.

and Rab?arivelo
the

again the soft belly of the dunes

earth's

the

blood,

sweat

stone's

and

the

sperm

of

the world
and Laleau:
The
And

conical drum laments under the sky


it is the very soul of the black man

Sultry

the

Outraging

we
Here,
is no longer

are

of men

spasms

calm

in rut,
of

the

lover's

sticky

sobs

evening.

far from Bergson's


chaste asexual
It
intuition.
of being
with
rather
but
congenial
life,

a matter

of being
in love with
all its forms. For
the white
technician,
an
is first of all
God
orders
chaos and pre
engineer.
Jupiter

scribes its laws; the Christian God conceives the world through
his understanding and brings it into being through his will: the
relation

between

the

created

and

the

creator

is never

carnal,

39
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

a
the Church
for a few mystics
whom
looks upon with
has nothing
in
so, erotic mysticism
great deal of suspicion. Even
common with
a
is
it
the
wait
for
fecundity:
passive
completely
are steeped
come
statuettes
in alluvium:
sterile penetration.
We
from
the hands
of the divine
If the manufactured
sculptor.
us
could worship
their
ancestors,
objects
they
surrounding
except

adore us as we adore
the All-powerful.
undoubtedly
our black
on
comes
out of
the
poets,
contrary,
Being
a
an
enor
like
is
Creation
erect;
penis becoming
Nothingness
would
For

mous perpetual delivery;


on

the

wind,

sea and

in the

the Negro

finds

the world is flesh and the son of flesh;

on the rocks,
in the
sky, on the dunes,
the softness of human
him
he
rubs
skin;

self against the sand's belly, against the sky's loins: he is "flesh
of the flesh of this world"; he is "porous to all its breaths," to
its pollens;
he is both Nature's
a woman
he makes
love with
seems to him to be the celebration

all

female

and

when

of his

race,

is like

This

spermatic
religion
two complementary
between
an erect phallus,
of being

of

the Mystery
of a soul

a growing

one of being
feminine
a
sort
of
basically
androgyny.

of Being.

tension

tendencies:
and that more

more

There

the

its male;
and
sexual act

the

balancing

the dynamic
deaf, more
Thus

plant.

feeling
patient,

n?gritude

are

you

and naked

Upright
alluvium

are

you

and

remember

yourself

as

having

been

but in reality you are the child of this parturient shadow


feeding on lunar lactogen7
then you slowly take the form of a bole
on this low wall jumped over by the dreams of flowers
and

the

perfume

of

summer

at rest.

To feel, to believe that roots are pushing your feet


and running and twisting like thirsty serpents
toward

some

subterranean

spring

..

(Rab?arivelo)

7
"lactogen":

This

is a neologism

in the French

text

as well.

40

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

is

Black Orpheus
And C?saire:
Wornout

This

leafless

mother,

and

now

wear

and

you

are

husks.

only
a stand
only

are

of

couis.

of vegetal

unity

profound

are
you
a calabash

mother,
You

flamboyant8
tree

. . .9

sexual

and

is cer

symbols

tainly the greatest originality of black poetry, especially


most

in a

the
shown,
when,
Carrouges
to mineralize
the human being.
images used by white poets tend
on
"animalizes"
the
sea, sky
contrary,
"vegetalizes,"
C?saire,
a
is
his
and stones. More
poetry
coupling
perpetual
precisely,
as Michel

period

has

of

into animals,
been metamorphosed
and beasts metamor
stones,
stones, with
plants
vegetables,
the Black man attests to a natural Eros;
into men. Thus
phosed
in
he reveals
and incarnates
it; to find a point of comparison
to
one
the
must
back
go
peasant
Lucretius,
poetry,
European
of men

and women

have

who

Rome

when
the mother
celebrated
Venus,
poet who
goddess,
market.
was not yet much more
than a large agricultural
a cosmic
me
seems
to
to
have
had
Lawrence
time, only
for sexuality.
works.

so, this

Even

feeling

remains

very

In our

literary

feeling
in his

seems basically
to be this im
However,
n?gritude
although
a unity
and plant
erection
of
mobile
phallic
springing-forth,
one
exhaust
with
it
this
could
single
scarcely
poetic
growth,
is another motif
this collection,
theme. There
through
running
like a large
Those

artery:
who
know

They

suffering.

To

the

absurd

have

invented

the most

remote

neither

powder
corners
of the

nor

. . .

compass

country

of

. . .

utilitarian

agitation

of

the white

man,

the

black man opposes the authenticity gained from his suffering;


8

a
found
in semi-tropical
in the
countries,
especially
flamboyant:
plant
a
or
Antilles:
flower,
(translator's
note)
foinciana
feacock
9
some
couis:
of tree
found
in the Antilles,
kind
(translator's
apparently

note)
41

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
the black

race

privilege

of

is conscious

depths
are anti-Christian

of

it has

the horrible
even
And

had

unhappiness.
from beginning

for the white

suffering
man.

the judgment

On

upon

himself

day, Armstrong's

of man's

interpreter

as the man

sees himself

of himself
of human

even

all,

poems

the

to end,

call n?gritude a kind of Passion: the black man who

one might
the whole

race because

is a chosen
touching

these

though

Review

who

and who

trumpet will

has

taken

suffers

for

be the

sufferings.

(PaulNiger)
a re
that this in no way
immediately
implies
was
I
A
while
about
ago
signed
speaking
suffering.
Bergson
now
to quote
I would
and Lucretius;
be tempted
that great
us note

Let

and his "Dionysianism."


of Christianity:
Nietzsche
adversary
to penetrate
Like
the
the
the Dionysian
negro
attempts
poet,
a
brilliant
the
and
thousand
of
feet
encounters,
day,
phantasm
the inexpiable
under
is
the Apollonian
surface,
suffering which
one
man.
one
essence
to
wished
the universal
of
If
systematize,
the whole
of nature
would
say that the Black man blends with
in as much

as he

in as much

as he

represents
claims he

if one

and
with Life
congeniality
of rebellious
in his Passion

feel the fundamental unity of this double

suffering. One will


movement

sexual
isMan

considers

the constantly
tighter
relationship
and sexual desire.
between
anguish
can be equally well
which
There
proud upheaval
or as suf
as a desire plunging
its roots into suffering
described
a
across
a
vast
This
cosmic
desire.
sword
fixed
like
fering
evokes
is both vegetal
that C?saire
growth
"righteous
patience"
which

psychiatrists
is only one

and patience
the negro;

establish

in the very muscles


of
it resides
suffering;
against
a thousand miles
the black porter going
it sustains

up the Niger

under a blinding

sun with

a fifty-pound

load

if in a certain sense, one can compare


a proliferation
to
in an
of suffering,
fecundity
one
is also Dionysian?this
other sense?and
this
by
fecundity,
creative
in
its
it
drowns
its exuberance,
goes beyond
suffering,

balanced
the

on his head.

But

of Nature

42
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
which

abundance

to understand
one must

in order
is poetry,
love and dance. Perhaps,
eros
of
and
indissoluble
unity
joy,
suffering,
seen the Black men of Harlem
dance frenetically

this

have

to the rhythm
of "blues,"
In
world.
rhythm
effect,
black soul, communicates
dionysian
of these

are

which

the

saddest

in the

sounds

cements

the multiple
aspects
its Nietzschian
with
lightness

of

the

heavy

the

intuitions;

rhythm?tam-tam,
jazz,
"bounding"
the temporality
of negro
existence.
a
to
his
better
fu
brothers
prophesies

poems?represents
a black poet
when

And

he

ture,

their

portrays

to

deliverance

them

in the

form

of

rhythm:
What?
rhythm
wave

sound

a new

in the

night

across

the

forests,

nothing?or

soul

timbre
intonation

vigor
dilation
vibration which flows out by degrees into the marrow
revulses10 in its progression an old sleeping body, takes
it by the waist
and spins it
turns

and

and once more


sexual

But

vibrates in its hands,


its thighs,

member,

its

vagina

in its loins, its


. . .

one must

this basic experience


of suf
go still further:
is
black
to
conscience
is
through
it,
fering
ambiguous;
going
historic.
In effect, whatever
become
be
the
intolerable
may
it is not to that condition
that
iniquity of his present
condition,
the black man first refers when he proclaims
that he has touched

the heart of human suffering. He


having
10

known

revulses:

(translator's

bondage.

referring

to

For

the

these

medical

has the horrible benefit of


poets,

term

most

revulsion:

of whom

were

counter-irritant,

note)

43

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts
1900

born

between

tury

earlier?lingers

Review

and

half

1918,
slavery?abolished
on as a very real memory:

a cen

Each of my todays looks on my yesterday


with large eyes rolling with rancor with
shame

Still real ismy stunned condition of the past


of
blows from knotted cords of bodies calcinated
from toe to calcinated back
of dead flesh of red iron firebrands of arms
broken under the whip which is breaking loose . . .
writes

a poet

Damas,

. . .Often
Awaken

And

from Guiana.

And

the Haitian,

Brierre:

like me you feel stiffnesses


after

murderous

old wounds

centuries

bleed in your flesh .. .

the black man


the
of slavery,
drank
the centuries
During
and slavery
to the last drop;
is a past fact
cup of bitterness
nor their fathers have actually
ex
our authors
which
neither
a hideous
even
from
which
it
is
But
also
nightmare
perienced.
awakened.
the youngest
of them are not yet sure of having
one
to
the other, black men?separated
From
end of the earth
by languages,
politics
a collective
memory
one

recalls

and the history


This
in common.

of their
will

colonizers?have

not
in

the French

if
be surprising
were
still
1789,

who,
peasants
terrors
back to the Hundred
that went
the panicky
man
war. Thus
the black
when
Years'
goes back to his prin
to him in two dimen
revealed
it is suddenly
cipal experience,
aware

only
of

sions: it is both the intuitive seizure of the human condition and


the still-fresh
Pascal

memory

of a historic

who

past. Here,
that man

I am thinking
of
an irrational

was

relentlessly
repeated
his greatness
and history,
of metaphysics
unexplain
composite
comes
his
if
from
the
able if he
alluvium,
misery
unexplainable
that in order to understand
he is still as God made
man,
him;

one had to go back to the simple basic fact of man's downfall.


44
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
is in this sense that C?saire
calls his race "the fallen
race."
in a certain sense I can see the rapprochement
that can be
between
conscience
and Christian
conscience:
black
made
the
It

And

brazen

evokes
law of slavery
states the consequences

which
slavery
man's
white

this

recalls

other

that
of

law

the Old

of

the Fault.

The

Testament,
abolition

historic

of

white

The

fact: Redemption.
1848 resembles
after
that of the
insipid paternalism
the Passion.
The
God
after
difference
however,
being,

that the expiable fault that the black man discovers in the back
of his memory

is not his own,

to the white

it belongs

the

man;

first fact of negro history is certainly a kind of original sin: but


the black man

is the

innocent

victim

of

it. This

is why

his

con

to white

is radically
"dolorism."
If
cept of suffering
opposed
are for the most
these poems
part so violently
anti-Christian,
a hoax
it is because
the white man's
is more
in
religion
clearly
the eyes of the negro
than in the eyes of the European
prole
to make him share the
tariate: this religion wants
responsibility
for a crime of which
to persuade
he is the victim;
it wants
him
to see the kidnappings,
the massacres,
the rapes and the tortures
as a legitimate
which
have covered Africa with blood,
punish
tests.
Will
that
deserved
it also proclaims
ment,
you say
equal

ity for all men before God? Before God, yes. Only yesterday I
was

in Esprit

reading

Madagascar

these

lines

from

I am as certain as you that the soul of a Malagasy


a white

man.

in

correspondent

. . .

Just

as,

soul of his father. However,


your children drive it.

before

God,

the

if you have

soul

of

isworth
a

child

an automobile,

the soul of
is worth

the

you don't

let

can hardly
more
reconcile
and colonialism
Christianity
to
In
these
the
black
elegantly.
opposition
sophisms,
man?by
a simple
as a former
of his memory
slave?affirms
investigation
One

that suffering
is man's
lot and that it is no less deserved
for all
that. He
horror
with
Christian
rejects
stagnation,
melancholy
sensual
masochistic
and all the tendentious
pleasure,
humility
to his submission;
inducements
he lives the absurdity
of suffer
45

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

in its pure form,


in its injustice
and in its gratuitousness;
or
he discovers
this truth which
is misunderstood
thereby
own
masked
carries
within
its
itself
by Christianity:
suffering
a
to suffer, it is the dark side of
it is by nature
refusal;
refusal
onto
it
and liberty. The
black man
revolt
opens
negativity,
as
as the
much
in
into history
transforms
promptly
himself
ing
and

intuition

of

to him

in the

future.

present
surging
of universal
and

eternal

signs
was a sheer
ifestation
his colored

a collective
past and as
a short while
ago, he
Only
man
a
of timeless
instincts,
simple
on him

confers

suffering
a goal

another

in quite

brothers

Now

fecundity.

he

calls

to

language:

Negro pedlar of revolt


you have known the paths of the world
ever

since

you

were

sold

have

seen

in Guin?e

. . .

with

weapons

And:
Five

centuries

you

in your hands
and you have taught the exploiting
passion for liberty.

races

a black Epic:11
is already
first
the golden
age of
the era of dispersion
then
then
the
and captivity,
Africa,
the
heroic
and
of
times
of
somber
great
conscience,
awakening
and black heroes,
then the
of Toussaint
Louverture
revolts,
There

fact of the abolition


says C?saire?then

of slavery?"unforgettable
for definitive
the struggle

metamorphosis,"
liberation:

You are waiting for the next call


the inevitable mobilization
for that war which is yours has known only truces
for there is no land where your blood has not flowed
no language inwhich your color has not been insulted
You

smile, Black Boy,

you sing
11
Epic:
comparing
(translator's

the French
the

negro

here
Epic

reads
with

"Geste"
the

themes

as in Chanson
of Medieval

de Geste;
is
Sartre
French
epic poetry,

note)

46

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
you

dance

you

cradle

generations

which go out at all hours to the


fronts of work and pain
which tomorrow will assault bastilles
onward toward the bastions of the future
in order

to write

in all

languages

on the clear pages of all skies


the declaration of your rights unrecognized
for more

than

and decisive

five

centuries

turn:

race

. . .

is transmuted

into historicity,
is
explodes
temporalized,
n?gritude?
with
its Past and its Future?is
inserted
into Universal
History,
a state, nor even an existential
it is no longer
it is a
attitude,
to
the
evolution
contribution
the
Human
of
black
"Becoming";
a bouquet
of
taste, rhythm,
ity is no longer savour,
authenticity,
Strange
the black

and

Present

a
instincts:
it is a dated
enterprize,
primitive
long-suffering
man
construction
and also a future.
the Black
Previously,
sun
name
his place
in the
claimed
in the
of ethnic qualities;
to life on his mission;
his right
and this
now, he establishes
comes
to
the
him
from
his
like
historic
mission,
proletariat's,
he
from
has
suffered
because
position:
capitalistic
exploitation
more

the others, he has acquired


than all the others.
of liberty more

than all

a love
most

he necessarily
pursues
for his own deliverance:

oppressed,
he works

when

a sense

because

the

liberation

of hope
Black messenger
you know all the hymns of the world
even those of the timeless building-works
But,

after

geneousness
Sometimes

spreads

in a moment
itself

he

is the
of

all,

of the Nile.

in the interior
still believe
homo
that, can we
And
how can one say that it exists?
of n?gritude?
in some
it is lost innocence which
had its existence

faraway past, and sometimes


within
the walls
of the future
Nature

and

of revolt

And

out

hope
City.

which

can be realized

Sometimes

it contracts

only
with

of

fusion
and sometimes
pantheistic
to coincide with
the whole
of Human
history
47

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

it

The Massachusetts
it is an existential

sometimes

ity;

objective
covered?
who
works

of negro-African
it being
After
created?

ensemble
Is

"collaborate";
of each poet,

after

all,

Review
attitude

and

traditions.

sometimes

the

Is it being dis
are black men

all, there
in the prefaces
he writes
for the
seems to distinguish
de
between

Senghor
Does
the poet who would
grees of n?gritude.
for his colored
invite them to become
brothers

be

the Prophet
or
negro,

more

to them what
they are, by a sort of poetic psy
or liberty? For the authentic
Is
choanalysis?
necessity
n?gritude
a
as con
matter
is
it
from essences,
of conduct deriving
negro,

does

he disclose

or is one a negro
in the way
from a principle,
derive
sequences
are believers,
that the religious
that is to say in fear and
faithful
remorse
in perpetual
for never
in anguish,
being
trembling,
one
a
to
what
Is
like
it
fact or a value?
would
be?
enough
given
or of a moral
Is it a
intuition
The
concept?
object of empiric
Or does meditation
of meditation?
it? Is it
conquest
poison
never
and
immedi
when
in
authentic
unmeditated
the
except
Is it a systematic
of the black soul, or a Platonic
explanation
one can approach
ever
without
which
indefinitely
Archetype
our
common
Is it, for black men,
like
engineer's
attaining?
Or do some
shared thing in the world?
sense, the most widely
ate?

and if so, does it have its chosen ones? One


answer
that it is all
this question
by saying
undoubtedly
And
I
like all
of these at once, and still other
agree:
things.
a
and
shimmer
of being
is
notions,
N?gritude
anthropological
of needing-to-be;
it: both oath and
it makes
you and you make

have

it, like grace;

will

even more
in it: the
is something
important
a
creates
kind
racism.
have
antiracist
of
negro himself,
said,
no
to
he
desires
the
the
He
in
dominate
world:
wishes
way
passion.

But

there
we

abolition of all kinds of ethnic privileges;

he asserts his solidar

the oppressed
of every color. After
that, the subjective,
as Hegel
of
notion
ethnic
says,
n?gritude
existential,
"passes,"
one
and
has of the proletariat:
into that which
objective,
positive
ity with

says: "For C?saire,cWhite'


symbolizes
precise. Senghor
capital,
. . When
.
as
work.
about
the
symbolizes
just
writing
Negro
about the worldwide
black men of his race, he is writing
prole
it
tarian struggle."
It is easy to say, not so easy to think. And
48
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
is certainly
N?gritude
of race does

the most

not just by accident


that
are also militant
Marxists.
not mix

cantors

of

the notion

Nevertheless,
of class: the former

the notion

with

ardent

is con

one be
and abstract;
the latter, universal
and particular;
to
to
what
and
the
other
calls comprehension,
longs
Jaspers
of a psycho-biological
the first is the product
syn
intellection;
a
construction
with
other
is
the
methodic
and
cretism,
starting
crete

In fact, N?gritude
like the up-beat
appears
[un
experience.
a
and
the theoretical
accented
dialectical
of
beat]
progression:
the posi
is the thesis;
affirmation
of white
supremacy
practical
as an antithetical
is the moment
of
tion of N?gritude
value
is not

moment
But this negative
black men who use it know

negativity.
and these

sufficient

in itself,

this perfectly
well;
or realization
the synthesis

they
at preparing
of the
is for de
in a raceless
human
society. Thus
N?gritude
being
an
a
not
"arrival
to"
and
it
is
at," a
itself,
"crossing
stroying
a black
means
and not an end. A poem by Jacques Roumain,
of this new
furnishes
the most moving
evidence
communist,
know

it aims

that

ambiguity:
I have held on to your memory

Africa
you

are

a thorn

Like

in a wound

like a guardian mascot


of me

make

Africa

in me

the

in the center of the village

stone

of your

sling

of my mouth the lips of your wound


of my knees the broken columns of your humbling
however

With

I want

to be only of your race

peasant

workers

what

sadness

of all

countries.

still

retains

he

decided to abandon! With


as a negro
pride
is in him like
Africa
his

to be only
the empire

of

for

of afflicted

other

he has

strip

He
who
that
men!
says both
in a wound"
and that he wants

race

conscience.

will disappear completely:

what

what pride as a man he will

"a thorn

the universal

for a moment

of
One

the oppressed,
has not left
more
step and N?gritude

the negro himself makes of what


49

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

Review

a
the mysterious
of black blood,
bubbling
geographical
determinism:
inconsistent
of
universal
the
cident,
product

was

ac

Is it all that climate extended space


which creates clan tribe nation
race

skin

gods

our inexorable dissimilarity.12


have the courage
But the poet does not completely
for this rationalization
of the racial
the responsibility
a bitter
one sees that he limits himself
to questioning;

to accept
concept;

is
regret
humiliated
and

to unite.

road:
Strange
to find their
themselves
within
offended,
deep
at
most
secret pride;
have
it
and when
found
last, it chal
they
own
to
exist:
its
supreme
lenges
through
generosity
they
right
his bow and arrows
abandon
abandoned
it, just as Philoctetes
visible

his will
search
black men

beneath

at Neoptolemus.
Thus
finds the secret
the rebel C?saire
in the bottom
revolts
of his heart: he is of royal blood:
is true that there is in you something which

?it
never

been

able

an

to

a desire,

anger,
yield,
a violence
in short a scorn,
impatience,
not
not
mud
veins
; pride,
your
carry
gold,
an

you have been King

King
.But he

thrusts

immediately

has

a sadness,
. . . and now
servitude.

in the past.

aside

this temptation:

is a law that I cover up with a chain unbroken

There
as

of his

as the

far

confluence

of fire

violates

which

me

purifies me and burns me with my prism of amal

which
gamated

gold.

...

I shall

perish.

But

one. Whole.

that has snatched


of man
is perhaps
this ultimate
nudity
his black armor,
from him the white
rags that were
concealing
that very armor;
it is perhaps
and rejects
and that now destroys
for Negri
that
this colorless
best
symbolizes
N?gritude:
nudity
It

12
there

Although
should

this was

be

the
a

translated,

poem
question

itself
mark

(translator's

and

Sartre's
there

here,

interpretation
in
is none

of
the

it
text

that
suggest
from which

note)

50

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

Black Orpheus
a state,

is not

tude

it is a simple

it is love.

going-beyond-itself,

It is when n?gritude renounces itself that it finds itself; it is


the colored man?and
it accepts losing that it has won:
he
to
renounce
the
He
is
asked
his
color.
the
be
pride of
one who
on this ridge between
is walking
past particularism?

when

alone?can

which he has just climbed?and future universalism, which will


be the twilight of his n?gritude; he is the one who looks to the
end of particularism in order to find the dawn of the universal.
the white worker
also becomes
conscious
of his
a
to deny
wants
he
the
advent
class
of
since
it,
less society: but once again,
the definition
of class is objective;
it sums up only the conditions
of the white worker's
alienation;

Undoubtedly,
class in order

whereas it is in the bottom of his heart that the negro finds race,
and he must tear out his heart. Thus N?gritude is dialectical; it
is not

nor

only

it represents

above

"going

all

the blossoming
a situation
beyond"

of atavistic
defined

by

instincts;
free con

sciences. N?gritude is a sadmyth full of hope, born of Evil and


pregnant with future Good, living like a woman who is born to
die

and who

her

life;
renounces

whereas
it also
lived

feels

her own death

it is an unstable
an

itself,

in the richest moments

even

an explosive
that knows

rest,
absolute

of

fixity, a pride which


for
it is transitory:

it is the Announcer of its birth and of its death agony,


remains

the existential

absolutely,
Past

nostalgic

into which

Because

the black

and
by free men
a
it is tension
between

chosen

attitude

to the fullest.

man

can no

enter

longer

completely and a future in which it will be replaced by new


values, N?gritude adorns itself with a tragic beauty that finds
expression only in poetry. Because it is the living and dialectical
unity of so many opposites, because it is a Complex defying
analysis, N?gritude is only the multiple unity of a hymn that
can reveal both it and the flashing beauty of the Poem which
Breton

calls

ceptualize

"explosante-fixe"
its various
aspects

its relativity,?even
consciences?and

royal
poetry

alone

that will

Because
would

any

necessarily

attempt
end up

to

con

showing

though it is lived in the absolute through


the poem
is an absolute,
it is
at
the unconditional
of
this
aspect

because
allow

titude to be fixed. Because it is subjectivity written

in the objec

51
This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions

The Massachusetts

that is to say in a
in a poem,
it is an Archetype
and a Value,
it
in
aesthetic
be
transparent
symbol
values;

must

tive, N?gritude

Review

take

form

because

subjectivity-object;
will
find its most

cause it is a call and a gift, it will make itself heard and offer
itself only by means of a work of art which is both a call to the
spectator's
content
of
mysterious
self. One
Narcissus'

is the
and absolute
liberty
generosity.
N?gritude
it is the poem
the poem,
like a thing of the world,
and open, obscure and suggestive;
it is the poet him
must

and

words

of Narcissism
and
triumph
soul beyond
culture,
beyond
all psychic
luminous
of un
facts,
night
and of what Ba
choice of the impossible
still

go

tension

suicide,
beyond

deliberate
knowing,
taille
calls "torture"
and

world

refusal

further;
of the

intuitive
[supplice],
in the name
of the world

of the
acceptance
of "the law of the

double

retraction,
contradictory
postulation,
demanding
For
in
of
essence, Poetry.
is,
expansion
generosity?N?gritude
once at least,
and
the
authentic
the most
revolutionary
plan
most pure poetry
come from the same source.
heart,"

And if the sacrifice is achieved one day, what will happen


then? What will happen if, casting off his n?gritude for the
sake of the Revolution,

the black man

no longer

wishes

to con

sider himself only a part of the proletariat? What will happen


if he then allows himself to be defined only by his objective
he
condition?
against white
capitalism,
if, in order to struggle
the source of po
to assimilate
white
technics? Will
undertakes
the great
black
will
etry run dry? or in spite of everything,
does not matter:
it flows? That
river color the sea into which
in each era, circumstances
of history
its poetry;
situa
elect a nation, a race, a class to take up the torch, by creating
or that can go beyond
themselves
tions that can be expressed
era has

each

sometimes
the poetic ?lan coincides with
only through Poetry;
us
Let
the revolutionary
?lan and sometimes
they diverge.
to
black men
chance that will permit
greet
today the historic
shout out the great negro cry so hard that the
world's foundations will be shaken.18
13
C?saire,

Les

armes

miraculeuses,

p.

156.

52

This content downloaded from 128.122.149.154 on Thu, 13 Aug 2015 01:59:00 UTC
All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions