Art and Aesthetics

Uplifting Thoughts on a Spring Night

In all the world, there is no sky more beautiful than the African sky. During the day, it is a vast concave bowl flecked with gold and snow, so vast and encompassing one may be forgiven for having a feeling of vertigo. It is even more marvellous at night because all the most interesting things in Nairobi happen then.

When I was a child, I remember the time of the long rains, when the termites flew. One evening, my friends and I were playing in the quiet street. A stream of stars scattered across the sky and the moon lay like a silver coin. We heard a hum, quiet at first, then insistent, like a thousand little hearts pounding. We looked up, and the stars seemed to flutter in and out of focus, as though black streamers were dropping from heaven. Thick and dense, swarms of insects were flying across the road. Most would be eaten by birds and other animals before the night was over. But the few survivors would lay eggs and form a colony. “Look, they’re tasty,” one of my friends said. He tore off the white wings and opened his mouth. I looked away in disgust. Up above, that magnificent, sparkling sky couldn’t care less.

地胜遗尘事,  dì;de shèng;shēng yí  chén shì,

身闲念岁华。  shēn xián;jiàn niàn suì huā;huá。

晚晴风过竹,  wǎn qíng fēng guò zhú,

深夜月当花。  shēn yè yuè dāng;dàng huā。

石乱知泉咽,  shí luàn zhī quán yàn;yè;yān,

苔荒任径斜。  tāi huāng rèn jìng xié。

陶然恃琴酒,  táo rán shì  qín jiǔ,

忘却在山家。  wàng què zài shān jiā。


The troubles of the mortal world are forgotten

My body leaves behind this passage in time

The evening breeze rushes through the bamboo

In deepest night, moonbeams light up the flowers

I hear the brook’s water run over the jumbled stones

I see the moss askew on the footpath

Poet Tao relied on wine and the zither

And forgot he was in a mountain home



Musical Interlude: Nocturne Op 27/1 by Chopin, played by Mark Obama Ndesandjo

Nocturne literally means a piece for the night. Chopin wrote this great work not just because the night was a time of tranquility and solitude, but also because it was full of passionate voices. Listening carefully, one can hear the different voices in the left hand, accompanying the right hand melody.

Image Credit

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