The First Time White-Corn’s-Child Came to the House Made of Dawn

2920375421_5eac7d6df3_bStumbling through the grounds at sunrise,
With dew-damp pollen clinging to my ragged pants cuffs
And having left all my friends behind,
I found myself here.

Beauty amazes me!
Charms hanging in the doorway!
Beauty amazes me!
I’ll dance with the alter-cloth!

Beautiful all that lies before me!
Beautiful all that creeps up behind!
Beautiful, every side I turn to!
I turn, and turn, and turn!

So here I am wandering around
In the house of happiness,
In the house of long life
That no one enters alive.

 

The image: Straw Spirit by Flickr user Hat4Rain (license: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

The poem: this is a very free translation from a Navajo song out of the Night Chant, as reported by Washington Matthews in Navajo Myths, Prayers and Songs with Texts and Translations, Univ. of California Pubs. in American Archaeology & Ethnology, vol. 5, No. 2 (1907) (available via the Internet Archive). Here is Matthews’s faithful translation of what he refers to as Song A:

Where my kindred dwell, there I wander.
Child of the White Corn am I, there I wander.
The Red Rock House, there I wander.
Where dark kethawns are at the doorway, there I wander.
With the pollen of dawn upon my trail. There I wander.
At the yuni, the striped cotton hangs with pollen. There I wander.
Going around with it. There I wander.
Taking another, I depart with it. With it I wander.
In the house of long life, there I wander.
In the house of happiness, there I wander.
Beauty before me, with it I wander.
Beauty behind me, with it I wander.
Beauty below me, with it I wander.
Beauty above me, with it I wander.
Beauty all around me, with it I wander.
In old age traveling, with it I wander.
On the beautiful trail I am, with it I wander.

Notes: kethawns are small sticks or cigarettes used by Navajo as sacrifices to the gods; yuni is the place of honor reserved for guests and the head of the house behind the fire opposite the door.

… and here is the Navajo original and Matthews’s literal, interlinear translation:SONG 1 - from Matthews 1907-Navaho Myths, Prayers and Songs

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