Black Poets: Atukwei John Okai

Atukwei John Okai

Atukwei John Okai was a Ghanian poet and cultural activist. Born in 1941, he taught Russian at the Department of Modern Languages at the University of Legon from 1971 on. In 1989, he became the first Secretary General of the Pan African Writers Association (PAWA), a position he held until his death in July 2018.

Sunset Sonata

… let the greying day glow,
… let the greying day glow,
… let the evening horns blow,
… let the melting mountains go,
… but let the sundown sow
 
In your soul
The sky-censored seed
Of a lone
And lonely longing
For the night
 
That, in me, must breed
Fire-desire
 
For your fondling,
That I should
Rise and crush the creed
 
That separates
Your soil from my sapling,
And makes
Us ride upon a horse
Whose foothold
 
On the land slackening
Echoes the cry
That there is no heed
To the tear
Of a fainting foundling –
 
… O let the sundown sow,
… let melting mountains go,
… let the evening horns blow,
… let the greying day glow,
 
… let the evening horns blow,
… let the melting mountains go,
… but let the sundown sow,
In your soul,
The soil-sanctioned, bulwark-bone
 
That must steel your soul
Against both stick and stone,
And toughen your toe
That, to trip, is prone –
For a hundred hells
 
Hunt for the human heart
While a billion
Blows bang upon its door,
And unpitying paws
Rounce forth from every part
 
Till cruel cries
Cake up at its very core:
Still stand stubborn
To stones that strangle the dawn,
Still stand stubborn
 
To stones that maim the morn,
Still stand stubborn
To stones that assail the sun
Still stand stubborn
To stones that ambush man –
 
… O let the sundown sow,
… let melting mountains go,
… let the evening horns blow,
… let the greying day glow.

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