Antigòn

*

[…]

Hemon: (Enters with his hat under his arm.) Hello, papa.

Creon: Hello, my boy.

Hemon: How are you?

Creon: I am no good, no! Have you heard everything that is happening in this country?

Hemon: Yes, but what do you have to say about it all?

Creon: Hemon, my boy, what do you want me to say? I am ruler. If I give an order, everyone must obey that order. Today I rule Thebes. Tomorrow it is you who will rule. If we lose our heads, they will cut them off when we are not paying attention. The young girl who has committed the crime, she would marry you. But Hemon, my boy, my blood, a woman who does not listen to the words of her ruler, she will never listen to the words of her husband. Do you want to find yourself in trouble with a woman like that?

Hemon: Papa, I need to know if it is with my papa that I am speaking or if it is with King Creon that I am speaking.

Creon: Oh! My boy, it is with your papa that you speak.

Hemon: Good! What I am capable of saying to my papa, I am not capable of saying it to a ruler.

Creon: Tell me what you want that you say that to me.

Hemon: Papa, Antigone is not entirely in the right. She is not entirely in the wrong either.

Creon: How is she not entirely in the wrong? Explain that to me.

Hemon: Eteocles, he was her brother. Polynices, he was her brother also.

Creon: Exactitude itself!

Hemon: For her, both of them are her brothers, which is something neither you nor I can understand.

Creon: If she is already my enemy, regardless of us, it is something neither you nor I is responsible for understanding.

Hemon: Me, I understand you. I understand Antigone, too. That is what I came to tell you.

Creon: Well, my boy, it is my fault for being too stupid. I do not understand you, I don’t understand that girl of yours.

Hemon: I came to ask you to make an exception.

Creon: Whom am I making the exception for again?

Hemon: I am your boy, Antigone is your girl, too. She doesn’t have a papa, you are the papa of us both. If you can understand what I am telling you, everything is going to become clear to you.

Creon: Nothing is not clear to me.

Hemon: Is it my papa who is speaking?

Creon: Is it my boy who has told me what you just told me?

Hemon: (Putting on his hat.) King Creon, I am going. I am going to join Antigone. King Creon, the people of Thebes will never forget Antigone. King Creon, I am leaving you in your dusk. I am going to the side of those who bring the dawn. God does not protect you, King Creon. The saints, the dead do not protect you. I am going.

Creon: It is anger, at your loss, which makes you speak with your papa like that.

Hemon: No, I am not angry anymore. I feel I have taken a side that has no anger, that has no pain, that has no tears. I have ended all that to go to a place where there are no bad people, where there is no decay, where there is no heat, where there is no cold, where there is no sickness, where there are no people with big appetites, where there are no people who favor some and not others. I have entered a country, hand in hand with Antigone, a country where people can live at peace, a country without mud. The drum beats. With Antigone I enter a country where there is no misery, a country where there is no mischief, a country where what is in the heart of a man, what is in the heart of a woman has more value, beyond the speech of Kings. I am leaving, King Creon.

Creon: You are not supposed to tell me what you are telling me, I will sacrifice that little negress before your great god. Go! Go join her and you will know when you are with her in what state I will put her. Oh! Oh! How can you let yourself come under my peristyle? Don’t you understand that the young look to their elders for guidance? But, but, but, we will see, yes, when the time is right.

Hemon: I have said everything I have to say. I am going. (Hemon exits.)

Creon: (Stops to address himself.) Let him go. Let him go crazy trying to save that little vermin. He is my boy, it is true. If he understood that he interferes with my responsibilities, he is not worth my sacrifice. And no man will bring that cursed one out of the cage I put her in. Because he does not know of her father’s curse, he does not know what happens to the daughter. For what? For one who won’t respect this chief. But Oedipus’ whole family, isn’t it always the same thing with them? He is going to Antigone. Now, am I Creon? He is going to look for Antigone? He will find a zombie Antigone. He will take the hand of a cadaver Antigone. He will think he is speaking with Antigone, but it is a zombie Antigone that will make him do what I tell him to do. (Creon opens a cabinet behind him, brings out a glass of water, a knife.) God who hears all things, who listens to all who speak. God who makes the sun rise, who makes everything fall, who whispers in my ear, I ask permission as I call you, Séclé-Quitté, right now. Séclé-Quitté, you who watch over the dead, my great God, you who has power who gives power, who knows all that you make me know, you who knows of Antigone, go to her, go to Antigone. Now bring her into this glass of water so I can stab her. With the power of great Brigitte, mother of all the dead, do I stab Antigone, daughter of Oedipus, sister of Polynices. I have come to Antigone, criminal woman, who stole my boy, I have come to Antigone who works with the devil. I have come to Antigone, into her head. See my right hand. I am stabbing Antigone. (He plunges the knife into the glass of water, which turns completely red. He takes the glass of water in his hand. Tiresias enters.)  

Tiresias: What have you done, brother Creon? What will come of this?

Creon: You see, God, the saints, the dead are with me!

Tiresias: They are not with you. It is because they are not with you that you have done what you have done.

Creon: What are you saying, brother Tiresias? Have you gone completely crazy?

Tiresias: It can’t be that everyone is crazy so that you can be sane. Everyone who does not agree with you, perhaps it is they who are sane.

Creon: Don’t you see! Brother Tiresias, don’t you see whom you are speaking to?

Tiresias: I am speaking to King Creon. If I have anything to tell him, it is to undo, quickly, what he has done. If I have any counsel for him, it is as follows: find the girl he cursed and lift the curse. Hemon has gone to her, I heard him there. If Antigone dies, your son lives no more, no!

Creon: What are you saying?

Tiresias: You heard what I said, yes.

Creon: I do not believe what I am hearing.

Tiresias: Well then, King Creon, if you do not believe me, why not rely on a loa you trust?

Creon: Which loa should I consult, brother Tiresias? They have all spoken. They are all the dead, are the spirit, are mystery, who do not explain necessity. They do not hold the reins to rule this country.

Tiresias: If you command without limits, beyond god, the saints, the dead, then you do nothing good. You will always take the path of evil. King Creon, I am obliged to tell you what has happened to you: all spirits, they have abandoned you.

Creon: It is not true. Never, absolutely never. Danballa does not abandon me…. Tiresias, summon Danballa for me.

Tiresias: (He takes the açon.) Danballa, snake rainbow, oh! Come near. Pau Danballa, Danballa, protect the children, Danballa be. (Açon.)

Creon: Amen!

Tiresias: Danballa, I am here. Pau Danballa, who watches over the children there, Danballa be! Brother Creon, Danballa has not come.

Creon: Bring him back, give me Danballa, Tiresias, he must come.

Tiresias: Danballa oh! Ago hé. Danballa hear us, Ago hé! Come? Ago. Jean-Céza. Come near! Papa, Danballa, Ago! Brother Creon, I forgot to tell you. Danballa is Antigone’s master. He is angry. You tried to kill her. He will not come.

Creon: Yes, they are all angry, that’s their problem.

Tiresias: Brother Creon, do not say anything stupid, no!

Creon: What do you want me to say?

Marrainne Ezili: (She enters.) What is that I hear? What is going on? (She approaches.) Tiresias, is this your work?

Tiresias: Me? No, my Maman!

Marrainne Ezili: You did not tell son Creon like I told you to tell him?

Tiresias: I told him yes, Maman.

Marrainne: It is I, Ezili. Pretty boy Hemon is going to die if I don’t come here to lift the curse! Who else will do it? Sellé oh! Don’t ride, Ogoun says that of all times you never listened less, Sellé oh don’t ride. Horse is at the altar, Sellé warns against the ride. Ah! Son Creon has arrived. With son Filo? Son Filo, Filo, oh! Who gives orders here? It is I, Ezili, speaking. I call you, right alongside you, you must come, even if you sleep, you must awaken and come.

Filo: Yes, King Creon.

Marrainne: No, it is I, Ezili-Freda who summons you. Go out to the place where you have locked up your lady Antigone with lady Ismène. Run quick.

Filo: King Creon?

Creon: Don’t go, Filo. I am going myself.

Marrainne: Son Tiresias, you will tell Son Creon what’s happened. Son Hemon, he almost ended up dead, I do not like a pretty young man dead, no. Son Tiresias, shake quick your açon there. Summon Antigone, awaken her so your boy does not die, no. I am going.

Tiresias: (Ringing the açon three times.) Antigone, horse of Danballa Ouédo, where are you? Antigone, where are you? (Açon.) Antigone, horse of Aida, Ouédo, where are you? (Açon.)

Voice of Antigone: Leave me alone. I am happy here. Hemon, we were never really people of the there! That’s really it. Hemon, our feet don’t touch the ground. Married, we married, yes. We were not married down there, our marriage is in the sky. At this height, our height, everyone is small below us. In the good wind that blows to marry us. We are going on a voyage by boat. On a lovely trip. To a lovelier tomorrow. Not a single cloud in the sky. Content, I am contentedly married there. Hemon, take my hand. I am going beyond the beautiful sky. I forget before, I forget the whole trip. I pledge we will go together. I pledge to go far, far away. It is I, Danballa’s daughter with Aida Ouédo. So you can’t do anything to me.

Tiresias: Antigone!

Voice of Antigone: Leave me in peace. We have a calling, don’t bother looking for me.

Voice of Hemon: Antigone, give my your hand, lead me. Give me your hand, my beautiful.

Tiresias: Oh! Hemon is going to die, yes!

Voice of Hemon: Antigone, put your head on my shoulder so that you do not falter. We are crossing together.

Voice of Antigone: Hemon my love, here beauty does not falter. What has slipped away has not slipped away. We will never succumb. Hemon, the beautiful mountain on this side has not aged. Has never stopped. We will never age. Will not die.

Voice of Hemon: Beauty, clothed in beauty, Antigone.

Voice of Antigone: Clothed, me? Is that what you love, Hemon? It is never dirty, it never tears.

Voice of Hemon: Beauty, my beautiful woman’s hair!

Voice of Antigone: Carry me to our beautiful bed, Hemon. Bathe me there in our beautiful cabana. We are going to sleep there together forever. Not one night, not the day for us again. We want to sleep there forever. We will never succumb, we will never age. We will never need to know anything that has been done for us. That has been done for us. I never need to know anything except the story of us, the children of Danballa with Aida Ouédo. We have no other father, we have no other mother.

Voice of Hemon: But, I forget yes, Antigone, I forget what came before us. I forget all that happened before.

Voice of Antigone: Me too, Hemon. I am so happy. I forgot all that happened. Did I dream all that had happened? Did we dream that everyone knew us? We went away we went away. We took our leave. We went away forever. It is too good for us here!

Creon: (Enters.) I cannot find them, brother Tiresias. The prison is empty. Two giant rainbows are rising from it.

[…]

Bios

Felix Morisseau-Leroy

Felix Morisseau-Leroy (1912-1998) is considered a pioneer of Haitian Creole poetry, and is credited, through his use of Creole, with introducing Haitians to its literary qualities before it became Haiti’s official and national language. His work is almost unknown in English, though he retains canonical status throughout the Caribbean. Perhaps the most widely known selection of his work appears in Jack Hirschman’s anthology of Haitian Creole poetry, Open Gate, which contains seven of his poems.

Blake Bronson-Bartlett and Robert Fernandez

Blake Bronson-Bartlett is a visiting assistant professor of English at The University of Iowa. His research has appeared in Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and is forthcoming in ESQ. He is the co-translator of a book on Stéphane Mallarmé (with Robert Fernandez) titled Azure: Poems and Selections from the "Livre"  (Wesleyan). ********************************************************************** Robert Fernandez is the author, most recently, of Scarecrow (Wesleyan) and Pink Reef (Canarium). His poems have appeared in the New Republic, Poetry, Boston ReviewConjunctionsLana TurnerA Public Space, and elsewhere.

Original copyright details unknown. English translation copyright (c) Blake Bronson-Bartlett and Robert Fernandez, 2017.