I love to pass my fingers
(As tide thro’ weeds of the sea
And wind the tall fern-fronds)
Thro’ the strands of your hair
Dark as night that screens the naked moon:

I am jealous and passionate
Like Jehovah, God of the Jews,
And I would that you realise
No greater love had woman
From man than the one I have for you!

But what wakeful eyes of man,
Made of the mud of this earth,
Can stare at the touch of sleep
The sable vehicle of dream
Which indeed is the look of your eyes!

So drunken, like ancient walls
We crumble in heaps at your feet;
And as the good maid of the sea,
Full of rich bounties for men,
You lift us all beggars to your breast.

© J.P. Clark | West African Verse – An Anthology by Donatus Ibe Nwoga published by Longman | 1967

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

 John Pepper Clark-Bekederemo (1935 – 2020), a renowned poet and playwright, who also published as J. P. Clark and John Pepper Clark' finally dropped his pen in the early hours of today, Tuesday, 13 October 2020. Born in Kiagbodo, Nigeria, to an Ijaw father and Urhobo mother, Clark held visiting professorial appointments at several institutions of higher learning, including Yale and Wesleyan University in the United States. Your words and verse were an enormous contribution to our heritage as Nigerians.

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