Poem a Day 2013 #24: Veni de Tenebris Continentem

Poem number 24.

Figure this one out if you can. This morning I read an Irish poem, “Venio Ex Oriente” by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill translated into English by Michael Hartnett. It’s loosely about a sensuous woman from the Middle East. I’ve taken the tone and, I hope, some of the sensuality of that poem, relocated the subject’s origin to Africa, incorporated some articles I still have from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Swaziland, and then let my subconscious mess around with it. Who know what it’s all about? Maybe you can tell me.

Veni de Tenebris Continentem

Splintered cedar I bring with me,

and from dark hands a carved icon,

a beaded pestle from plateaus south,

to crush addiction in my hand.


My hair is braided, oiled and sleek.

My eyes admit an antique fear.

The bracelets on my wrists reflect

on batiked shapes upon the wall.


My body breathes a distant place,

it hints of earth and curious trees,

the scent of insect, bird and brute,

the heart of darkness beats within.

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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2013


6 thoughts on “Poem a Day 2013 #24: Veni de Tenebris Continentem

  1. Love love love love love. I saw that on the Poetry Project and thought it a beautiful poem (it’s beautiful to say in Irish). Your version does it a wonderful justice. Well done.

  2. Like Whiter Shade of Pale: who cares what it means? Luscious, fun to read. I wouldn’t recognise an antique eye if it bit me, but I can still love it.

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