Prayers and Poetry

“In their acceptance of the life condition as god-decreed, they seem impassive, yet in their prayers they appear to have been a people sensitively aware of their impulses, follies, inhibitions, weaknesses, and dilemmas.

Prayers and occasionally songs were burnt into leather sheaths called senberiens. A senberien was worn at times as an amulet and sometimes attached to a votive or placed within if the votive had a hollow interior.”

Examples of such writings by ordinary Llhurocians are scattered throughout the narrative.

The moon has passed, cold and low
And it is time again to ask you
My God to plead for me.
Go to your God and tell him thus:
My food is scarce and has no taste.
My son is small and weak.
My woman is cold and old.
My eyes do not carry far and away.

All this cannot be changed;
Tal-Hax, this I know.
Tal-Hax tell Great Shor-Noo
Change what is good for me.
Let the berry-bush bow low, the nets full.
Make my son stand in danger, not too long.
Let my woman loosen her hair about me.
When the Last Dark comes, let me see without a fire.

Do this, Tal-Hax, and I will not fail
To plant fishbones in neat regular mounds
Over turtle-shells filled with black and white stones
When the moon comes again, high or low.

— Prayer to Tal-Hax and Shor-Noo, | Catalog #46 | Home Votive Shrine in Two Parts

In a sacred fog the living things
Outline themselves,
Tense in dancing grief against the
Bright sounds and sudden smells of the Night silence.
Beyond the sleeping camp
Hunters encircle the spindling bones,
Anointed by smoking’ wines and
Shaken in coiled rhythms.
Inviting me to take the emptiness of
Cool feathers and drink the
Thick, orange blood, the
White eyes of the goat
Burn through fumes of lust
A lust
Hooked in blue darkness,
Spiralling down, down
Onto the bed of stone leaves.
The blood on its horns binds me
To a promise understood in wonderment,
And the uncovered moon
Wets me in an angry glare
Like a shrill warning,
Commanding that I pierce
The soft throat.

— In the Sacred Fog, | Catalog #46 | Home Votive Shrine in Two Parts

If you want me
As I want you,
You would let me die
Under a petal of your rose
And you would bury me
In the lobe of your ear.

— Pilkung love song

Offer me a shroud
And weep for me.
I cannot die
Yet I am entombed
By tears because
I am not free
To make a bed of boughs
And wait at night for
My Hunter to stab me.
I pretend to fight.
He has a dagger.
I want to be stabbed:
His weight crushes
The breath out of me.
Afterwards, I rest
As though I were still in
My mother’s body.
Holding his twin soft stones,
I listen to his noisy sleep.

— [Legends of the Pilkug People, p. 28]

I am brave
Yes, brave indeed.
Others wear the teeth of the syreek.
Only I wear the teeth of the tonzit.
Others row with the white waters.
Only I swim against the white waters.
I am brave.
Yes, brave indeed.

— [Lebende Symbole, p. 36]

Shisun, make: me one with thee.
Let the sinews of my loins
Measure the beat of
Your dripping ardour.
Oh, oh
Make a net of your hair,
That I not drown in your arms.

— From a Senberien, Early Archaic, [Lebende Symbole der Llhuroschen Kunst and Kultur, p. 24]


We remember, yes we remember well,
Your strength.
But the darkness cannot
Be crushed even with
Thighs as mighty as yours.

Do not wet your face
With memories of me.
I had no choice
You would have done the same.

We remember, yes we remember well
Your steadfastness.
But water cannot
Be kept from dripping
When the thirsty man
Has only his cupped hand.
[text lacking]

We know we cannot rest
Until your name is sung
From morning to night.
We will neither feed nor wine ourselves
On this unhappy day each year.

— [Legends, p. 47]

It It is not easy to carry a bird on your head.
Especially when it is a big,
Big bird,
With its huge wings flopping.
It probably would be easier
If its wings were flapping.
But then, the bird would be
Flying, whereas
I am carrying the bird.

Or so it seems
That I am carrying the bird.
But maybe the bird is
Carrying me. oh, Oh, [sic]
Its talons dig into my ceremonial wig
And almost into my head
It would be much easier if
I were not on sacred stilts:
That makes it more difficult.

But we do not expect the way to
Akaslu to be without
Discomfort or pain.
We know our sins
Are less when the pilgrimage is
Not a lark. This one is not easy.
It is not a lark. It is a good pilgrimage.
I believe I am a good pilgrim.

— The Good Pilgrim, | Catalog #73 | Arphor (Temple Votive) Of the Shrine of Malmus

Sacred god-bird, oh Aar-Tenn, hear me.
Your body is round and smooth
With stiff, red, soft feathers.
You feed in quick, cruel strokes.
You feast in wet, dark caves.
When you die, your stretched wings fold.
Oh Feeder-Devourer, lean or full
Give me one magic gift, I implore.
Give my body great wings.
Let my hunger be satisfied.
Let me carve fast and long.
Let me live to die often.
Let me, like you, find life by dying.
I fear me, hear me, Son-Father,
Oh Sacred Aar-Tenn, oh Bird of Life.

The cloud of my breath:
Our “sayhhaitu” is ready to eat.
The cloud of my breath:
My crying baby smiles.
The cloud of my breath: My anxious husband relaxes.
The cloud o f my breath:
The rainbow flowers in our bed.

— [Lebende Symbole, p. 72]

Adapted from the original catalog for The Civilization of Llhuros, ©1972-2022 Cornell University, licensed under CC BY-NC

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