Femme Noire: A Poem by Léopold Sédar Senghor in Film

nia-groce-freddie-rankin-femme-noire

Clothed with your color which is life, with your form which is beauty

I recently shot with one of the best in the game — Freddie L. Rankin II. He’s shot for major fashion houses and some of the biggest models in the game (just peep his profile) so I was honored for him to turn his lens on me. Freddie primarily shoots with film and his work is stunning. We met up in his studio, FLRS Global, for a quick photo session and once he sent the results, the first thing that came to mind was “femme noire.”

Subsequently, I found the below poem by Léopold Sédar Senghor which was published in Chants d’Ombre’  in 1945. Senghor, the late president of Senegal, wrote the poem as an ode to the black woman, but also to his country Senegal. What a beautiful way to describe the two.

nia-groce-freddie-rankin-femme-noire

Firm-fleshed ripe fruit, sombre raptures of black wine, mouth making lyrical my mouth

“Femme Noire” in french:

Femme nue, femme noire
Vétue de ta couleur qui est vie, de ta forme qui est beauté
J’ai grandi à ton ombre ; la douceur de tes mains bandait mes yeux
Et voilà qu’au cœur de l’Eté et de Midi,
Je te découvre, Terre promise, du haut d’un haut col calciné
Et ta beauté me foudroie en plein cœur, comme l’éclair d’un aigle

Femme nue, femme obscure
Fruit mûr à la chair ferme, sombres extases du vin noir, bouche qui fais lyrique ma bouche
Savane aux horizons purs, savane qui frémis aux caresses ferventes du Vent d’Est
Tamtam sculpté, tamtam tendu qui gronde sous les doigts du vainqueur
Ta voix grave de contralto est le chant spirituel de l’Aimée

Femme noire, femme obscure
Huile que ne ride nul souffle, huile calme aux flancs de l’athlète, aux flancs des princes du Mali
Gazelle aux attaches célestes, les perles sont étoiles sur la nuit de ta peau.

Délices des jeux de l’Esprit, les reflets de l’or ronge ta peau qui se moire

A l’ombre de ta chevelure, s’éclaire mon angoisse aux soleils prochains de tes yeux.

Femme nue, femme noire
Je chante ta beauté qui passe, forme que je fixe dans l’Eternel
Avant que le destin jaloux ne te réduise en cendres pour nourrir les racines de la vie.

nia-groce-freddie-rankin-femme-noire

In your shadow I have grown up; the gentleness of your hands was laid over my eyes.

“Femme Noire” in english:

Naked woman, black woman

Clothed with your colour which is life,
with your form which is beauty!

In your shadow I have grown up; the
gentleness of your hands was laid over my eyes.

And now, high up on the sun-baked
pass, at the heart of summer, at the heart of noon,
I come upon you, my Promised Land,
And your beauty strikes me to the heart
like the flash of an eagle.

Naked woman, dark woman

Firm-fleshed ripe fruit, sombre raptures
of black wine, mouth making lyrical my mouth
Savannah stretching to clear horizons,
savannah shuddering beneath the East Wind’s
eager caresses

Carved tom-tom, taut tom-tom, muttering
under the Conqueror’s fingers

Your solemn contralto voice is the
spiritual song of the Beloved.

Naked woman, dark woman

Oil that no breath ruffles, calm oil on the
athlete’s flanks, on the flanks of the Princes of Mali
Gazelle limbed in Paradise, pearls are stars on the
night of your skin

Delights of the mind, the glinting of red
gold against your watered skin

Under the shadow of your hair, my care
is lightened by the neighbouring suns of your eyes.

Naked woman, black woman,
I sing your beauty that passes, the form
that I fix in the Eternal,

Before jealous fate turn you to ashes to
feed the roots of life.

nia-groce-freddie-rankin-femme-noire

Under the shadow of your hair, my care is lightened by the neighboring suns of your eyes.

 

September 22, 2017

RELATED POSTS

Leave a Reply