Sunday, February 05, 2012

Positive thinking from the icy North

We haven't had a 'Poetry Sunday' for a while, and I was reminded of this by mention yesterday (indirect, in a link) of The Residents' album Eskimo, a great musical oddity that some friends and I used to use in our college days for hi-fi speaker tests (it has some fun stereo effects in it).

When I was living in Canada in the late '90s, I got to know an Inuit soapstone carver I'd bumped into at a gallery opening, and he shared with me some of his people's traditional songs/poems, along with his own translations of them. Unfortunately, I didn't have any written copies, and they endured only dimly in my memory. However, a few years ago, I happened to recognise one of them when I came upon it online. I'm afraid I have completely forgotten where, and haven't been able to find it again; I don't think a translator was credited anyway, and I've tweaked it a bit myself, in line with what I think I recall of what my Inuit acquaintance told me all those years ago.

I'd like to be able to add the original language, but I don't know what it is called, and I very much doubt if it's posted anywhere online. It's an uplifting little piece. [No, I couldn't find this song/poem. But there's an interesting free download of a study of Inuit art here.]

I thought over again
My little adventures -
As when  once on a shore-wind 
I drifted far out in my kayak
And thought I was in danger -

My fears,
Those small ones
That I thought so big,
For all the vital things
I had to get and to reach.

And yet there is only
One great thing,
The only thing:
To live to see, in huts or on journeys,
The great day as it dawns,
And the light that fills the world.

Inupiat Traditional

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