Friday, July 22, 2011

Song of a Mother to her Firstborn ~ Anonymous/Sudan

"Speak to me, child of my heart.
Speak to me with your eyes, your round laughing eyes...
Speak to me little one,
Clutching my breast with your hand,
So strong and firm for all its littleness.
It will be the hand of a warrior, my son,
A hand that will gladden your father.

O son, you will have a warrior's name and be a leader of men.
And your sons, and your sons' sons, will remember you long after you have slipped into darkness.

But I, I shall always remember your hand clutching me so.
I shall recall how you lay in my arms,
And you looked at me so, and so, and how your tiny hands played with my bosom.
And when they name you a great warrior, then will my eyes be wet with remembering.

And how shall we name you?
See, let us play at naming.
It will not be a name of despisal, for you are my first-born.
Our gods need no cheating, my child.
They wish you no ill.
They have washed your body and clothed it with beauty.
They have set a fire in your eyes.
And the little puckering ridges of your brows-
Are they not the seal of their fingerprints when they fashioned you?
They have given you beauty and strength, child of my heart,
And wisdom is already shining in your eyes,
And laughter.

So how shall we name you little one?
Are you your father's father, or his brother, or yet another?
Whose spirit is that in you, little warrior?
Who lives in you and quickens to life, like last year's melon seed?

O my child, now I am happy.
Now indeed I am a wife-
No more a bride, but a Mother-of-one.
Be splendid and magnificent, child of desire.
Be proud as I am proud.
Be happy as I am happy
Be loved as now I am loved.

Child, child, child, love I have had from my man.
But now, only now, have I the fullness of love.
His soul is safe in your keeping my child, and it was I, I, I, who
have made you.

Therefore am I loved.
Therefore am I happy.
Therefore am I a wife.
Therefore have I great honor.

You will tend his shrine when he is gone.
With sacrifice and oblation you will recall his name year by year.
He will live in your prayers, my child,
And there will be no more death for him, but everlasting life springing from your loins.
You are his sheild and his spear, his hope and redemptiion from the dead.
Through you he will be reborn as saplings in the spring.

Sleep, child of beauty and courage and fulfilment, sleep.
I am content."

"Song of a Mother to her First-born," translated by Jack H. Driberg from Initiation.