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Poetry

Demokratia

By Surafel Wondimu
Translated from Amharic by Fasil Yitbarek
Ethiopian poet Surafel Wondimu curses the gods.

Hallelujah for Demos,
Hurray for the glory of Kratos!
The barren relic of Old Athena
A figment from the famed city of yore.

A toast for Demokratia
The monument to the triumph of self-rule
For the chosen few of them,
Not even a tenth of the demos
Not for the women, the slaves and the children.

Shame on your charade Athena
Shame on your phony motherhood
That brought forth an impostor
A miscarried demokratia
And inflicted it upon
A trusting, gullible world.
Are you proud Athena
That your imposter still lives on?
Do you rejoice in your heart
That your stillborn holds sway
Over the foolish hearts of men
Who die and kill in its name?

But you know very well, Athena
That your birth is a travesty
And the blighted fruit of your womb
Is nothing but a mockery;
You have known it all along
That Demokratia equals Equality,
Only in the words of Socrates
That it is the fountain of Freedom,
Only in the diction of Aristotle
That Demokratia is a chimera
A shadow forever pursued
By myriads of naïve mortals
The blessed many who believe
Without seeing.


© Surafel Wondimu. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Fasil Yitbarek. All rights reserved.

English Amharic

Hallelujah for Demos,
Hurray for the glory of Kratos!
The barren relic of Old Athena
A figment from the famed city of yore.

A toast for Demokratia
The monument to the triumph of self-rule
For the chosen few of them,
Not even a tenth of the demos
Not for the women, the slaves and the children.

Shame on your charade Athena
Shame on your phony motherhood
That brought forth an impostor
A miscarried demokratia
And inflicted it upon
A trusting, gullible world.
Are you proud Athena
That your imposter still lives on?
Do you rejoice in your heart
That your stillborn holds sway
Over the foolish hearts of men
Who die and kill in its name?

But you know very well, Athena
That your birth is a travesty
And the blighted fruit of your womb
Is nothing but a mockery;
You have known it all along
That Demokratia equals Equality,
Only in the words of Socrates
That it is the fountain of Freedom,
Only in the diction of Aristotle
That Demokratia is a chimera
A shadow forever pursued
By myriads of naïve mortals
The blessed many who believe
Without seeing.


© Surafel Wondimu. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2012 by Fasil Yitbarek. All rights reserved.

Surafel Wondimu's poem "Demokratia" in the original Amharic.

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