Dehai

Historic Poem

Posted by: Haile Bokure

Date: Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Thank you my teacher, Mr. Curt Peterson for your suggestion to share this poem in English. Mr. Peterson was a famous Peace Corps volunteer in Asmara in mid sixties. He was our Physics teacher who told us not to memorize while studying. He speaks and writes Tigrigna well. How he learned this difficult language during his four years stay in Asmara still surprises me. This poem is quickly copied in his honor. መምህር ዓለም (ሳጒኡ ኢዩ) the teacher of the world!!! እዚ ግጥሚ ንኽብርኻ ጽሒፈ ኣብ ፈይስቡክ (ምስለ-ደብተር) ብንፋስ (ኢንተርነት) ይሰደልካ ኣሎኹ። የቀንየለይ መምህረይ።
So, for the benefit of the English -speaking friends, I am submitting the English version of the poem translated by Professor Edward Ullendorf in cooperation with Dr. Abraham Demoz who was also a scholar in Semitic tongues. This historic poem was composed the day the first newspaper issued.
*Pls. take a look that the newspaper is personified in a poetic form.

“May Your Offering Be Accepted”
By Mehari Weldu

Our dear newspaper. Our first light; how do you do?
However, much they may love you,
However much they may desire you;
Even everyone buys you,
even if they take you everywhere;
even if they regard you like light
and wave you about in every assembly;
and hoist you like a flag.
Humbly counsel your people.
Speak to them from your heart, I beg you,
They will not fine you, will they?
You are free to speak- it is your duty.
Advice and counsel them, I beg you.
Even some make you dirty and tear you up,
and treat you with negligence,
Please don’t get angry.
They are your children and you are their father.
They are your dignity and your ornament,
unto them in your message.
But while they support you with prayer,
you shall be of use to your people.
Through you we hear the news of the whole world,
even books you have downgraded.
You dispense much peace, much knowledge.
Where have you been heretofore?
You were a stranger to your people
with your fine letters and the language of the forefathers.
What is that, thanks to you, cannot be done?
You who brings good tidings in the wilderness.
Don’t let your people remain like unploughed land,
Let your message reach them.

By Mehari Weldu
Eritrean Weekly News, No. 12; 16 Nov., 1942)

Source: Ullendorff, Edward (1977). Is Biblical Hebrew a Language? Studies In Semitic Languages and Civilizations. Page 332.
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