“How the World Began!”: the Story of Crow. Indigenous creation story as told by Angela Sidney! #NativeLivesMatter

The Story of Crow.

(This poem starts with a daughter so precious that her parents did not want to lose her, ao they protected her and even though many men wanted her hand in marriage, they said she was too good for them. They all waited, I imagine, for the right man. She is referred to as ‘that girl.’)

Crow wanted to be born— he wants to make the world!

So he made himself into a pine needle.
A slave always brings water to that girl and one time he gets water
.   with a pine needle in it.
She turns it down— make him get freshwater.
Again he brings it. Again a pine needle is there.
Four times he brings water and each time it’s there.
Finally she just give up— She spit that pine needle out and drink the
.   water.
But it blew into her mouth and she swallowed it.
Soon the girl is pregnant.

Her mother and daddy are mad.
Her mother asks, “Who’s that father?”

“No, I never knew a man,” she told her mother.

That baby starts to grow fast.
That girl’s father had the sun, moon, stars, daylight hanging in his
.   house.
He’s the only one that has them.
The world was all dark, all the time.
The child begged for them to play with.

Finally, the father gives his grandchild the sun to play with.
He rolls it around, plays with it, laughs, has lots of fun.
Then he rolls it to the door and out it goes!
“Oh!” he cries. He just pretends.
He cries because that sun is lost.

“Give me the moon to play with.”

They say no at first— like now, if a baby asks for the sun or moon you
.   say,
“That’s your grandfather’s fire.”

Finally, they gave it to him.

One by one they gave him the sun, moon, stars, daylight—
He loses them all.

“Where does she get the child from? He loses everything!”
That’s what her father says.

Then Crow disappears.
He has to things with him in the box.
He walks around— comes to a river.
Lots of animals there— fox, wolf, wolverine, mink, rabbit.
Everybody’s fishing…
That time animals all talk like people talk now—
The world is dark.

“Give me fish,” Crow says.
No one pay any attention.
“Give me fish or I’ll bring daylight!”
They laugh at him.

He’s holding a box… starts to open it and lets one ray out.
Then they pay attention!
He opens that books a bit more—they are scared!
Finally he opens that daylight box and threw it out.
Those animals scatter!
They hide in the bush and turn into animals like now.
Then the sun, moon, stars, and daylight come out.

“Go to the skies,” Crow says.
“Now no man owns it— it will be for everybody.”

He’s right, what he says that Crow.

After Crow made the world, he saw that sea lion owned the only island
. in the world.
The rest was water— he’s the only one with land.
The whole place was ocean!
Crawl rests on a piece of log— he’s tired.
He sees see lion with that little island just for himself.
He wants some land to so he stole that sea lion’s kid.

“Give me back that kid!” said sea lion.

“Give me beach, some sand,” says Crow.

So sea lion gave him sand.
Crow threw that sand around the world.
“Be World,” he told it. And it became the world.

After that, he walks around, flies around all alone.
He’s tired— he’s lonely— he needs people.
He took poplar tree bark. You know how it’s thick?
He carved it and then he breathed into i.

“Live!” he said, and he made a person.
He made Crow and Wolf to too.
At first they can’t talk to each other—
Crow man and woman are shy with each other— look away.
Wolf the same way too.

“This is no good,” he said. So we change that.
He made Crow man sit with Wolf woman.
And he made Wolf Man sit with Crow woman.
So Crow must marry Wolf and Wolf must marry Crow.

That’s how the world began.
.
.

“You tell what you know.
The way I tell stories is what I know.”

Angela Sidney.

.

.

As told by Angela Sidney in “Life Lived Like a Story: Life Stories of Three Yukon Native Elders.” By Julie Cruikshank, p. 42.

Library in Toronto: http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/detail.jsp?Entt=RDM521988&R=521988

Order online:
– NEW: http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=444 or at http://www.indiebound.org
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‪#‎IndigenousLivesMatter‬ ‪#‎WinterSolstice‬ ‪#‎WinterSolsticebonfire‬ ‪#‎AmINext‬

.

Start of story:
“One time there was a girl whose daddy is a very high man.
They kept her in her bedroom all the time—
Men try to marry her all the time, but they say no, she’s too good.”

Creation: God and the animals look after the people. Indigenous poem and story!

http://www.rattle.com/poetry/print/10s/i14/ OUT of print, indigenous poets.

Native Creation Story. By Phil Lane as told by Richard Wagamese. I love these lines of encouragement and responsibility- a legal contract of sorts between God and the Animal People.

“You will need to be more than brothers and sisters, you will need to be his teachers.”

And the Creator thinks all their ideas are good and still wants to find another place. The smallest of the Animal People and not very powerful, the mole, has the best idea– this is a legal tradition whereby not only judges and politicians create the laws, but the least powerful are acknowledged, welcomed and show they have good ideas.

.

God and the Animal People look after a new creature.

IN THE TIME BEFORE there were human beings on Earth, the Creator called a great meeting of the Animal People.

During that period of the world’s history, the Animal People lived harmoniously with one another and could speak to the Creator with one mind. They were very curious about the reason for the gathering. When they had all assembled together, the Creator spoke.

“I am sending a strange new creature to live among you,” he told the Animal People. “He is to be called Man and he is to be your brother.

“But unlike you he will have no fur on his body, will walk on two legs and will not be able to speak with you. Because of this he will need your help in order to survive and become who I am creating him to be. You will need to be more than brothers and sisters, you will need to be his teachers.

“Man will not be like you. He will not come into the world like you. He will not be born knowing and understanding who and what he is. He will have to search for that. And it is in the search that he will find himself.

“He will also have a tremendous gift that you do not have. He will have the ability to dream. With this ability he will be able to invent great things and because of this he will move further and further away from you and will need your help even more when this happens.

“But to help him I am going to send him out into the world with one very special gift. I am going to give him the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice. But like his identity it must be a search, because if he finds this knowledge too easily he will take it for granted. So I am going to hide it and I need your help to find a good hiding-place. That is why I have called you here.”

A great murmur ran through the crowd of Animal People. They were excited at the prospect of welcoming a new creature into the world and they were honoured by the Creator’s request for their help. This was truly an important day.

One by one the Animal People came forward with suggestions of where the Creator should hide the gift of knowledge of Truth and Justice.

“Give it to me, my Creator,” said the Buffalo, “and I will carry it on my hump to the very centre of the plains and bury it there.”

“A good idea, my brother,” the Creator said, “but it is destined that Man should cover most of the world and he would find it there too easily and take it for granted.”

“Then give it to me,” said the Salmon, “and I will carry it in my mouth to the deepest part of the ocean and I will hide it there.”

“Another excellent idea,” said the Creator, “but it is destined that with his power to dream, Man will invent a device that will carry him there and he would find it too easily and take it for granted.”

“Then I will take it,” said the Eagle, “and carry it in my talons and fly to the very face of the Moon and hide it there.”

“No, my brother,” said the Creator, “even there he would find it too easily because Man will one day travel there as well.”

Animal after animal came forward with marvellous suggestions on where to hide this precious gift, and one by one the Creator turned down their ideas. Finally, just when discouragement was about to invade their circle, a tiny voice spoke from the back of the gathering. The Animal People were all surprised to find that the voice belonged to the Mole.

The Mole was a small creature who spent his life tunnelling through the earth and because of this had lost most of the use of his eyes. Yet because he was always in touch with Mother Earth, the Mole had developed true spiritual insight.

The Animal People listened respectfully when Mole began to speak.

“I know where to hide it, my Creator,” he said. “I know where to hide the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.”

“Where then, my brother?” asked the Creator. “Where should I hide this gift?”

“Put it inside them,” said the Mole. “Put it inside them because then only the wisest and purest of heart will have the courage to look there.”

And that is where the Creator placed the gift of the knowledge of Truth and Justice.
.
.
Found in “Indigenous Legal Traditions,” Prof. John Borrows.

“Professor and Chair in Aboriginal Justice and Governance, Faculty of Law, University of Victoria. The author would like to acknowledge the support of the Law Commission of Canada and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in the preparation of this Article.”
Footnote 152:
Based on a story by Phil Lane, Jr., Four Worlds Development, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alberta, as retold by Richard Wagamese, in ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABORIGINAL PEOPLES, RESTRUCTURING THE RELATIONSHIP (1996)

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New Year’s Poems. Happy 2015! 3/3

New Year’s Eve

“I have finished another year,” said God,
“In grey, green, white, and brown;
I have strewn the leaf upon the sod,
Sealed up the worm within the clod,
And let the last sun down.”

“And what’s the good of it?” I said.
“What reasons made you call
From formless void this earth we tread,
When nine-and-ninety can be read
Why nought should be at all?

[…]

“Strange that ephemeral creatures who
By my own ordering are,
Should see the shortness of my view,
Use ethic tests I never knew,
Or made provision for!”

She sank to raptness as of yore,
And opening New Year’s Day
Wove it by rote as theretofore,
And went on working evermore
In her unweeting way.

The Darkling Thrush

I read this poem not in its original form but in different order. The numbers are what their place really is (see below for full correct poem).

BEST: “In blast-beruffled plume”

3.
At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

2.
The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

4.
So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

1.
I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

Thomas Hardy

I leant upon a coppice gate
When Frost was spectre-gray,
And Winter’s dregs made desolate
The weakening eye of day.
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky
Like strings of broken lyres,
And all mankind that haunted nigh
Had sought their household fires.

The land’s sharp features seemed to be
The Century’s corpse outleant,
His crypt the cloudy canopy,
The wind his death-lament.
The ancient pulse of germ and birth
Was shrunken hard and dry,
And every spirit upon earth
Seemed fervourless as I.

At once a voice arose among
The bleak twigs overhead
In a full-hearted evensong
Of joy illimited;
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small,
In blast-beruffled plume,
Had chosen thus to fling his soul
Upon the growing gloom.

So little cause for carolings
Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things
Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew
And I was unaware.

Thomas Hardy

 

Link

Creation story

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

Translating, I departed from the rhymes and the almost rhymes out of necessity when the english words don’t rhyme and also because I want to show that Slauerhoff played with leaving out parts of speech, much like Joss Whedon encouraged in Buffy and Firefly. I think his play works especially well because the poem is about creating a world that is not there there and which has holes. Some of the loss of almost rhymes is sad because his choice of words was lovely. Learn Dutch!

“They remained as thrown” was the most difficult to translate because in Dutch part of the verb (“waren”=were) is left out but the last word of this line (geworpen=thrown) rhymes with the last word of the poem (dorpen). Anyway. It is a different poem in English. I love how Slauerhoff stops the story. Leaving the rest to our imagination. The whole poem stops and start and restarts at odd moments. How to play with language. When you read it aloud you need to leave space between inside some of the lines. Where depends on how you speak. The alliterations in the poem and inner rhymes are beautiful.

Also: I like he puts down the answer before we ask the question in the second stanza. He makes the lines work for him. Doesn’t let the mind dictate how he tells his story. Pay attention because G-d isn’t.

Third stanza is funny: you expect more but no.

Creation story

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

Dutch: Scheppingsverhaal.

Gods kind had blokken in zijn boezelaar,
Waarmee het in de wolken had gespeeld.
Maar toen zij op wou bergen, moe, verveeld,
Zag ze in de doos en wist niet hoe ze daar

In passen moesten, keurig ingedeeld.
Want God was streng, maar sliep – dus geen gevaar.
Zij liet ze vallen, zag er niet meer naar
Om en ging vlug naar een mooi engelbeeld.

De blokken vielen door een leeg heelal
En kwamen op een leege wereld, waar
Ze bleven zooals ze er heen geworpen.

De meeste sprongen stuk tot berg en dal.
En die heel bleven vormden hier en daar
De groote steden en de kleine dorpen.

© 1998, Erven J. Slauerhoff / K. Lekkerkerker / Uitgeverij Nijgh & Van Ditmar
From: Verzamelde gedichten
Publisher: Nijgh & Van Ditmar, Amsterdam, 1990.

The Creation: “And God stepped out on space…” by James Weldon Johnson! Pretty fantastic.

RE-imagined poem by James Weldon Johnson. Still the same G-d, people. Beautiful images Weldon calls forth, as if he was there there- one of these poems that you can feel the amazing of our world, our trees, our rivers, our deer, our elephants, our woods and jungles… Unbelievably beautiful what we have to take care of. Care. Of. Read and weep.

And then give freely to the World Wild Life Fund and Green-Peace.

Quick thoughts on image:
“Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;”

God had to toil to make us into her image. Everyone who has worked with clay and has attempted to shape a human or any animal, knows how hard it is. You start out roughly, you add on, you take off, you squeeze, you pull a bit this way. That way. Making stars seems to have come to God easily. She threw the light against the darkness. With us, she had to think. What was important. She didn’t create us like the trees, or the rivers. Why would it be so hard to create an image of God? You have to understand yourself if you want to describe yourself. God had to think about what made her who she was. She could create, so she gave us that. We can make dark and light in our life. She gave us that choice. She gave us a smile. She gave us words. She knew she was lonely still and she made us look for others. She made us want community and love and closeness. She taught us how to kneel down and toil over what is important.

 

And God stepped out on space,
And She looked around and said,
“I’m lonely —
I’ll make me a world.”

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God reached out and took the light in Her hands,
And God rolled the light around in Her hands
Until She made the sun;
And She set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
She hurled the world;
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God herself stepped down —
And the sun was on Her right hand,
And the moon was on Her left;
The stars were clustered about Her head,
And the earth was under Her feet.
And God walked, and where She trod
Her footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then She stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And She spat out the seven seas;
She batted Her eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
She clapped Her hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed her finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out her arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around Her shoulder.

Then God raised Her arm and She waved Her hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And She said, “Bring forth! Bring forth!”
And quicker than God could drop Her hand.
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, “That’s good!”

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that She had made.
She looked at Her sun,
And She looked at Her moon,
And She looked at Her little stars;
She looked on Her world
With all its living things,
And God said, “I’m lonely still.”

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where She could think;
By a deep, wide river She sat down;
With Her head in Her hands,
God thought and thought,
Till She thought, “I’ll make me a body!”

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
She kneeled Her down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of Her hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till She shaped it in Her own image;

Then into it She blew the breath of life,
And body became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)

Whoohoo!!

Creation poem II (by Dutch ship’s doctor Jan Jacob Slauerhoff)

God’s child kept blocks in his apron’s pocket,
which it had been playing with in the clouds.
But when she, tired, bored, then wished to clear the decks
She saw into the box and could not fathom

how ever to fit them, neatly ordered stacked.
Because God was stern, but slept, so was no danger.
She let them drop, without a further glance
and made straight for a pretty sculpted angel.

The blocks fellthrough stark empty skies,
And reached an empty world, where
They remained as thrown.

Most shattered into hills and dales;
And those, whole, in one piece, formed here and there
the far wide cities and the smallest towns.

 

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You created the night, I created the lamp. Iqbal!

Mount-Everest-2
www.pakistantoday.com.pk

You created the night, I created the lamp
You created clay and I made the pottery
You created the deserts, the mountains and jungles
And I produced the rice fields, the gardens and the orchards
It was I who turned rock into mirrors
And poison into cures

Iqbal

“…one blue-colored cloak, I had considered to be the sky”

Iqbal

Iqbal was born in 1877 in what is now Pakistan: the Punjab Province of British India. From a Brahmin family converted to Islam, he studied in Cambridge, became a lawyer, did his phd in Germany and wrote poetry in Persian and Urdu. He was a favourite of the Iranian revolution in 1979 and stood at the birth of the nation of Pakistan.