Death in the Dawn by Wole Soyinka

Death in the Dawn 

Traveller, you must set out 
At dawn. And wipe your feet upon 
The dog-nose wetness of earth. 

Let sunrise quench your lamps, and watch 
Faint brush prickling in the sky light 
Cottoned feet to break the early earthworm 
On the hoe. Now shadows stretch with sap 
Not twilight's death and sad prostration 

This soft kindling, soft receding breeds 
Racing joys and apprehensions for 
A naked day, burdened hulks retract, 
Stoop to the mist in faceless throng 
To wake the silent markets-swift, mute 
Processions on grey byways. . . .

                                     On this 
Counterpane, it was —
Sudden winter at the death 
Of dawn's lone trumpeter, cascades 
Of white feather-flakes, but it proved 
A futile rite. Propitiation sped 
Grimly on, before. 

         The right foot for joy, the left, dread 
         And the mother prayed, Child 
         May you never walk 
         When the road waits, famished. 

Traveler you must set forth 
At dawn 
I promise marvels of the holy hour 
Presages as the white cock's flapped 
Perverse impalement-as who would dare 
The wrathful wings of man's Progression. . . .

But such another Wraith! Brother, 
Silenced in the silent startled hug of 
Your invention - is this mocked grimace 
This closed contortion - I? 

— Wole Soyinka


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