Death Song for Aijuk, Dreamed by Paulinaq


I am filled with joy
When the day peacefully dawns
Up over the heavens,
      ayi, yai ya.

I am filled with joy
When the sun slowly rises
Up over the heavens,
      ayi, yai ya.

But else I choke with fear
At greedy maggot throngs;
They eat their way in
At the hollow of my collarbone
And in my eyes,
      ayi, yai ya.

Here I lie, recollecting
How stifled with fear I was
When they buried me
In a snow hut out on the lake.
      ayi, yai ya.

A block of snow was pushed to,
Incomprehensible it was
How my soul should make its way
And fly to the game land up there,
      ayi, yai ya.

That door-block worried me,
And ever greater grew my fear
When the fresh-water ice split in the cold,
And the frost-crack thunderously grew
Up over the heavens,
      ayi, yai ya.

Glorious was life
In winter.
But did winter bring me joy?
No! Ever was I so anxious
For sole-skins and skins for kamiks,
Would there be enough for us all?
Yes, I was ever anxious,
      ayi, yai ya.

Glorious was life
In summer.
But did summer bring me joy?
No! Ever was I so anxious
For skins and rugs for the platform,
Yes, I was ever anxious
      ayi, yai ya.

Glorious was life
When standing at one's fishing hole
On the ice.
But did standing at the fishing hole bring me joy?
No! Ever was I so anxious
For my tiny little fish-hook
If it should not get a bite,
      ayi, yai ya.

Glorious was life
When dancing in the dance-house,
But did dancing in the dance-house bring me joy?
No! Ever was I so anxious,
That I could not recall
The song I was to sing.
Yes, I was ever anxious,
      ayi, yai ya.

Glorious was life . . .
Now I am filled with joy
For every time a dawn
Makes white the sky of night,
For every time the sun goes up
Over the heavens.
      Ayi, yai, ya.


                           Inuit; trans. W.E. Calvert


Paulinaq, Inuit, trans. W.E. Calvert.