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Best of Native American Poetry Translations by Michael R. Burch


Speak less thunder, wield more lightning.

— Apache proverb


Cherokee Travelers' Blessing I

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


I will extract the thorns from your feet.

Yet a little longer we will walk life's sunlit paths together.

I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.

When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.

And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.


Cherokee Travelers' Blessing II

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Happily may you walk

in the paths of the Rainbow.

Oh!,

and may it always be beautiful before you,

beautiful behind you,

beautiful below you,

beautiful above you,

and beautiful all around you

where in Perfection beauty is finished.


Cherokee Travelers' Blessing III

loose loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


May Heaven’s warmest winds blow gently there,

where you reside,

and may the Great Spirit bless all those you love,

this side of the farthest tide.

And when you go,

whether the journey is fast or slow,

may your moccasins leave many cunning footprints in the snow.

And when you look over your shoulder, may you always find the Rainbow.


Sioux Vision Quest

by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux, circa 1840-1877

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


A man must pursue his Vision

as the eagle explores

the sky's deepest blues.


Native American Travelers' Blessing

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Let us walk together here

among earth's creatures great and small,

remembering, our footsteps light,

that one wise God created all.


Native American Prayer

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Help us learn the lessons you have left us

in every leaf and rock.


Cheyenne Proverb

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Before you judge

a man for his sins

be sure to trudge

many moons in his moccasins.


Cherokee Prayer

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


As I walk life's trails

imperiled by the raging wind and rain,

grant, O Great Spirit,

that yet I may always

walk like a man.


Proverbs


Adults talk, children whine.

— Blackfoot proverb


The more we wonder, the more we understand.

— Arapaho proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


Don’t be afraid to cry: it will lessen your sorrow.

— Hopi proverb


One foot in the boat, one foot in the canoe, and you end up in the river.

— Tuscarora proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


Our enemy's weakness increases our strength.

— Cherokee proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


We will be remembered tomorrow by the tracks we leave today.

— Dakota proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


No sound's as eloquent as a rattlesnake's tail.

— Navajo saying, translation by Michael R. Burch


The heart is our first teacher.

— Cheyenne proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


Dreams beget success.

— Maricopa proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


Knowledge interprets the past, wisdom foresees the future.

— Lumbee proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


The troublemaker's way is thorny.

— Umpqua proverb, translation by Michael R. Burch


Michael R. Burch is the editor of The HyperTexts, on-line at www.thehypertexts.com, where he has published hundreds of poets over the past three decades. His poetry has been translated into fourteen languages, taught in high schools and colleges around the globe, incorporated into three plays and two operas, and set to music by seventeen composers. A five-time Pushcart nominee, his poems, translations and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary journals, including The Lyric, New Lyre, Romantics Quarterly, The Chained Muse, LIGHT, Measure, Southwest Review, The Chariton Review, The Chimaera, Brief Poems, Poem Today, Asses of Parnassus, Writer’s Digest—The Year’s Best Writing and The Best of the Eclectic Muse.

14件のコメント


Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
2023年10月28日

This is a new Native American translation of mine: What is life? The flash of a firefly. The breath of the winter buffalo. The shadow scooting across the grass that vanishes with sunset. ―Blackfoot saying, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


いいね!
martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
2023年10月29日
返信先

I like this new translation. It just strikes me as being vivid and real and authentic. Well done, Mike.

いいね!

Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
2023年6月17日

These are other Native American translations I've done more recently...


The Receiving of the Flower

excerpt from a Mayan love poem

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Let us sing overflowing with joy

as we observe the Receiving of the Flower.

The lovely maidens beam;

their hearts leap in their breasts.

Why?


Because they will soon yield their virginity to the men they love!


The Deflowering

excerpt from a Mayan love poem

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Remove your clothes;

let down your hair;

become as naked as the day you were born—

virgins!


Prelude to Lovemaking

excerpt from a Mayan love poem

loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch


Lay out your most beautiful clothes,

maidens!

The day of…


いいね!

ddouthat09
ddouthat09
2023年4月12日

Despite 10,000 years and more of separation by Native Americans from their Asiatic cousins, clearcut similarity of expressing religious wisdom remains. Wise men are always humble. The universal need for a "Higher Power" shines through yet another lens.

いいね!
Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
2023年4月19日
返信先

When some of my Native American translations were published in India, it was noted how the translations shared a similar vibe to poems by Oriental mystics.

いいね!

martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
2023年4月12日

Thank you for bringing us these. I wasn't aware that Native Americans, so far back, had formulated such profoundly contemplative blessings, prayers and proverbs, that are still accessible now. It's hard to reconcile these works - and all their love, wisdom, dignity, and belief in the 'Great Spirit' - with the countless Hollywood depictions of the same Natives as 'Godless, murdering savages', I watched so avidly as a youngster. But having these works here, in such fine translations, provides a very contrasting picture to Hollywood's, and does much to set the record straight for those who were vilified and then annihilated. Well done, Michael!

いいね!
Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
2023年4月19日
返信先

Thanks Martin. Hollywood depictions are often wildly off the mark. For instance, Sitting Bull was known for being slow to anger and a man of peace and wisdom. It was the Custers and Andrew Jacksons who backed Native Americans into a corner and forced them to the warpath.

いいね!

jm6783685
jm6783685
2023年4月12日

This is wonderful stuff! Memorable wisdom indeed! What a pity contemporary American poets can't make more of this source material, and learn more from this deeply indigenous tradition. I mean as some sort of antidote to the present pandemic of rootlessness and superficiality which affects so much of American life. And beyond that increasingly the rest of the world.


A sense of rootedness is so important to poetry.


Native Americans have always struck me as being very dignified. To me that is an important quality, akin to integrity. Since without integrity you cannot really have it.


So far as I know Lawrence is the only one who has attempted to do anything in this direction.

いいね!
Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
2023年6月17日
返信先

Yes, I think the best Native American poems and proverbs are very deeply rooted, both spiritually and in the real world.

いいね!
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