Return to My Native Land

Return to My Native Land


'The undisputed masterpiece of négritude and a poetic milestone of anti-colonialism' Guardian

'We shall speak. We shall sing. We shall shout.'

This blazing autobiographical poem by the founder of the négritude movement became a rallying cry for decolonisation when it appeared in 1939. Following one man's return from Europe to his homeland of Martinique, it is a reckoning with the trauma of slavery and exploitation, and a triumphant anthem for Black identity, one which reclaims and remakes language itself.

'Nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of this time' André Breton

'A Césaire poem explodes and whirls about itself like a rocket, suns burst forth whirling and exploding' Jean-Paul Sartre

'The most influential Francophone Caribbean writer of his generation' Independent

Translated by John Berger and Anna Bostock


  • Nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of this time
    André Breton

About the author

Aimé Césaire

Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) was a Martinican poet and politician who played a leading role in the struggle to liberate the French colonies of Africa and the Caribbean. Renowned for co-founding the Négritude movement, Césaire was a pioneer in surrealist poetry. His achievements as a writer were recognised worldwide with awards including the International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award, the Laporte Prize, the Viareggio-Versilia Prize for Literature, and the Grand Prix National de Poésie; in 2002, he was made Commander of the Order of Merit of Cote d'Ivoire. His works include the plays A Tempest (1969) and A Season in the Congo (1966), the searing political essay Discourse on Colonialism (1956), and the long poem Return to My Native Land (1950), dubbed "nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of this time" (Andre Breton).
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