A Vision

Cilmi Bowndheri
c. 1910-1941. He spent his youth as a pastoralist but around 1930 he moved to the town of Berbera and worked there as a baker. He fell in love with a girl called Hodon whom he hardly knew, and when it proved impossible to marry her he recited many desperate poems which won him nationwide fame. Hodon was given in marriage to another man and Cilmi is said to have died of grief. His grave in Berbera is sometimes visited by ill-starred lovers.


At times I made light of it

And I was free.

Then suddenly I was shown her in a vision

And she was radiant in hue, like a lighted lantern.

Surely she must have been imprinted on my heart

How else could I be so intoxicated with her?

Inside my breast she tick-tocks to me like a watch

At night when I sleep she comes to sport with me

But at early dawn she leaves

And turns into a rising pillar of dust.

Bowndheri, Cilmi. “A Vision.” An Anthology of Somali Poetry. Trans. B. W. Andrzejewski and Sheila Andrzejewski. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1993. 67. Print.



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