Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Song for the Dead

The evening becomes evening.
No one will shelter you.
And at that time
The otter will come toward you
To make you afraid.
But do not be afraid.
Receive her as your sister.
The otter knows
The order of the rivers,
The lay of the fords,
Will get you across,
Will save you from drowning,
Will carry you to the cold springs
To refresh you
After the shudder of death.

Also before you
The wolf will appear
To make you afraid.
But do not be afraid.
Receive him as your brother.
The wolf knows
The order of the forests,
The grain of the paths,
He will lead you
On the level road
To a king's son,
To paradise
Where life is good,
The hill for playing:
There is your place;
The field of peonies:
There is your heart.

Traditional Romanian song translated by W.S. Merwin

1 comment:

John said...

One of the interesting things about this song is the close parallels with American Indian myths. Indians imagined the underworld as a watery place, and therefore animals that passed back and forth between water and land -- otters, beavers, and so on -- were often considered spirit guides. These ideas are 15,000 years old.