New World A – Comin’ by Edward Kamau Brathwaite


Helpless like this

leader –

less like this,

we met you lover,

warrior, hater,

coming through the files

of the forest

soft foot

to soft soil

of silence:

we met in the soiled

tunnel of leaves.

Click lock your

your fire

lock fore

arm fire –

arm flashed

fire and our firm

flesh, flame

warm, fly

bitten warriors


How long

how long

O Lord

O devil

O fire

O flame

have we walked

have we journeyed

to place

to this meeting

this shock

and shame

in the soiled


How long have we

travelled down

valleys down

slopes, silica

glinted, stones

dry as water,

to this flash

of flame in the forest.

O who now will help

us, help –

less, no

hope, no

Cortez to come.

Prempeh imprisoned,

Tawiah dead,

Asantewa bridled

and hung

O who now can help

us: Geronimo, Tackie,

Montezuma to come.

And the fire, our

fire, fashioning locks,

rocks darker than iron;

fire betrayed us once

in our village; now

in the forest, fire falls

us like birds, hot pods

in our belly. Fire

falls walls, fashions

these fire –

locks darker than iron,

and we filed down the path

linked in a new

clinked silence of iron.


It will be a long before we see

this land again, these trees

again, drifting inland with the sound

of surf, smoke rising

It will be a long time before we see

these farm again, soft we slow green

again: Aburi, Akwamu,

mist rising

Watch now these old men, cold

clear eye’d like the water we ride,

skilful with sail and the ropen and the tackle

Watch now these cold men, bold

as the water banging the bow in a sudden wild tide,

indifferent, it seems, to the battle

of wind in the water;

for our blood, mixed

soon with their passion in sport,

in difference, in anger,

will create soils, new souls, new

ancestors; will flow like this tide fixed

to the star by which this ship floats

to new worlds, new waters, new

harbours, the pride of our ancestors mixed

with the wind and water

the flesh and the flies, the whips and the fixed

fear of pain in this chained and welcoming port

hoping my children’s eye

will learn

not green alone

not Africa alone

not dark alone

not fear

but Cortez

and Drake


and that Ferdinand

the sailor

who pierced the salt to this land.

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