Spell me freedom. By Lemn Sissay (b 1968). Sissay was born in Billinge in the United Kingdom. He says, ‘I am British, of course I’m British. But being British and black are two different things…the system here doesn’t accept the Britishness of Blacks.’
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By Lemn Sissay (b 1968)
He says, ‘I am British, of course I’m British. But being British and black are two different things…the system here doesn’t accept the Britishness of Blacks.’
Two collections of his have been published; Perceptions of the Pen and Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist. He is a regular performer of his work and has performed his poems in South Africa.
And make it simple
If you spell a word to a person you explain to the person how the word is put together.
By asking people to spell the word ‘freedom’ the poet wants a detailed explanation of what freedom really is.
He wants the explanation of freedom to be made really simple like the spelling of a word. You either spell it correctly or incorrectly.
You either say what freedom is or you don’t.
It shall not make me sick
When you present the definition of freedom to him, it must be something he can digest.
He compares the definition of freedom with food. When he ‘eats’ the definition it must not make him sick.
And make the ingredients carefully
Freedom is compared with a dish or a drink. Freedom consists out of different aspects like a drink or dish consist out of different ingredients. These ingredients should be prepared carefully.
What freedom consists of should be stated carefully.
It does not make me choke
When he drinks the ingredients of freedom it must not make him choke.
If you choke you are unable to speak.
If you choke literally there is an irritation in your throat.
The definition of freedom must be something that goes down smoothly.
And whisper it quiet
The definition of freedom should be so simple that you could whisper it to someone.
A whisper is usually a very short conversation.
It does not give me a headache
The definition of freedom should be simple and uncomplicated. It should not be so comlex that when you discuss it, it gives you a headache.
And bake it fresh
You should not come with an old definition of freedom. It should be as fresh as something that is newly baked.
It shall not make me dry
The definition of freedom should quench his thirst for a satisfying definition. It should not make him more thirsty after he has heard it.
And stir it quickly
Freedom must be explained as if you are stirring something. Mixing together a lot of ingredients.
It shall not burn my tongue
When you contemplate the definition of freedom it must be acceptable it must not be like hot food that burns your tongue when you taste it.
And tell the joke well
The poet tries to say that no one can give a definition for freedom. Those who try to only turn the definition into a joke. The definition becomes something you can not believe.
Freedom is a joke. It does not exist
It shall not unveil into hopeless tears
Initially you may find the lack of a definition for freedom laughable.
Behind the laughter there are tears.
Not being able to define freedom is something to cry about and it is actually sad.
and cradle each word
A baby is kept safe in a cradle.
Your words defining freedom must be selected and treated as carefully as a baby that is in a cradle.
Consider every word you use very carefully.
They shall not crack like spines
The definition of freedom must be strong. If you apply the definition of freedom to life, it must work.
It must not break like a spine and leave the person paralyzed.
A spine shows strength, a weak spine is worth nothing.