NILE: A Poem by Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin

I am the first Earth Mother of all fertility
I am the Source I am the Nile I am the African I am the beginning
O Arabia, how could you so conveniently have forgotten
While your breath still hangs upon the threads of my springs
O Egypt, you prodigal daughter born from my first love
I am your Queen of the endless fresh waters
Who rested my head upon the arms of Narmer Ka Menes
When we joined in one our Upper and Lower Lands to create you
bosom of my being
How could you so conveniently count down
In miserable billions of petty cubic yards
The eternal drops of my life giving Nile to you
Beginning long before the earth fell from the eye ball of heaven,
O Nile, that gush out from my breath of life
Upon the throats of the billions of the Earth’s thirsty multitudes,
O World, how could you so conveniently have forgotten
That I, your first fountain, I your ever Ethiopia
I your first life still survive for you?
I rise like the sun from the deepest core of the globe
I am the conqueror of scorching pestilences
I am the Ethiopia that “stretch her hands in supplication to
God”
I am the mother of the tallest traveler on the longest journey on Earth
My name is Africa I am the mother of the Nile.
O Nile, my prodigal daughter on the wilderness of the desert
Bringing God’s harmony to all brothers and sisters
And calming down their noises of brass in their endless nakednesses
O Nile, you are music that restore the rhythm of existence
Into the awkward stampeding of these Middle Eastern blindnesses
You are the irrigator that cultivate peace
From my Ethiopian sacred mountains of the sun
Across to nod on the East of Aden and across Sinai
Beyond Gibraltar into the heights of Mount Moriah
O Nile, my chosen sacrifice for universal peace offering
Upon whose gift the heritages of Meroe and Egypt
Still survive for the benefit of our lone World
You are the proud daughter O Nile, who taught
The ancient world how to walk in upright grace
You are my prodigal daughter who saved and breast fed
Little lost Jacob whose brothers sold for food
You, who nurtured, fed and raised
The child prophet called Moses on your cradle,
You, who stretched out your helping hand and protected
The baby Christ from the slaughtering swords of their Herods,
O Nile, my infinite prodigal daughter
At whose feet mountains like Alexander bent
Their unbendable heads to drink from your life giving milk,
O Nile, at whose feet giants like Caesar Knelt
Conquerors like Napoleon bowed
Their unbowable heads to partake from your immortal bounty.
O Nile, you are the majestic blood line of my African glory
That shower my blessings upon the starved of the world
You are the eloquence that ring the Ethiopian bell across the deaf world You
are the gifted dancer of graceful rhythms
That harmonize with your sisters Atbara and Shabale
With your brothers Awash and Juba
To fertilize the scorched sands of Arabia
O Nile, without your gift Mediterranea shall be a rock of dead waters
And Sahara shall be a basket of skeletons
You are Africa’s black soil that produce life
You are the milk that quench the thirsty multitudes
You are the messenger of my gospel, O Nile
That bring my abundant harvest to the mouth of the needy
You are the elegant pilgrim of my mercy.
You are the first fountain you are the first ever Ethiopia
You are the appeaser of the lustful greeds
You are the first Earth Mother of all fertility
Rising like the sun from the deepest core of the globe
You are the conqueror of the scorching pestilence
You are the source you the Africa you are the Ethiopia you are the Nile.
– Tsegaye Gebre-Medhin, Ethiopian Poet Laureate, August 1997

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