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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday: Scaling Machu Picchu

from hubby's iPhone


My hubby just returned from a two-week trip to the mountains of Peru, where, among other spiritual experiences, he hiked up Machu Picchu.

In searching for something poetry-related, I stumbled upon a website by poet, author and translator John Curl.

His book, Ancient American Poets (published by Bilingual Press/Arizona State University), features several poets including Pachacutec, the ninth and most powerful Inca emporer. Machu Picchu was most likely built during his reign in the mid-15th century.

Curl's website features selections from part of his book, “The Sacred Hymns of Pachacutec.” These poems are known as jaillis, the sacred ones being considered the highest poetic form. Their lyricism and direct appeal to God remind me of our biblical Psalms.

Curl writes: “Traditions of poetry and song were deeply engraved in Inca culture, encompassing both sacred and secular forms, shared by the common people and the aristocracy. Prayer songs, ceremonial songs, work songs and love songs were part of the texture of daily life. …”

These were my kind of poets, as Curl goes on to say: “Quechua poets liked their verses brief and without obvious artifice.” Reminds me of haiku!

Here are the first few lines from the first poem (No. 1) in this selection:


Oh Creator, root of all,

Wiracocha, end of all,

Lord in shining garments

who infuses life and sets all things in order,

saying, "Let there be man! Let there be woman!"

Molder, maker,

to all things you have given life: …



I also found the following lines from the middle of the fifth poem (No. 5) poignant and timely, as today I listened to reports of the drought savaging our own country’s heartland:


...

Increase the potatoes and corn,

all the foods

of those to whom you have given life,

whom you have established.

You who orders,

who fulfills what you have decreed,

let them increase.

So the people do not suffer and,

not suffering, believe in you. …



Please see the entire poems and a few others here.

Hungry for more poetic knowledge? The terrific Tara at A Teaching Life is rounding up Poetry Friday this week!
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