Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oxaitoq's Song - Anonymous Inuit

As I have noted with other selections, one of the great pleasures of reading poetry from other cultures and times is the universality of the emotions.  This anonymous song from the 1890s comes from the Inuit, the indigenous people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic areas of northern Canada, Alaska, and Greenland.  And it is just marvelous: short and pithy, yet emotionally translatable to any language.  It's stripped to the essential and exposing despair, sadness, dejection, truth, and just a hint of bitterness and anger.  And remember that, as the sea in those parts is the provider of sustenance and life, physically "..walking inland..." is heading away from it, to death.  In this case, she has driven him to emotional suicide.  And how familiar is that to those who have loved?
Oxaitoq’s Song

Walking inland, inland, inland,
I am walking inland.

Nobody loves me, she least of all, so I walk inland.
She has loved only for the things I bring.
She has loved only for the food I bring.

                                                                             Anonymous - Inuit

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