Navajo Hunting Song

This beautiful song evokes through its rhythm the ritual prayer-dance before the hunt. You can read it here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/nam/por/por31.htm.

Whoever did the original translation caught the rhythm in some of the lines, but favored literalness of translation over preservation of the rhythm in others. I have restored the rhythm throughout, adapting the thoughts and images to this new expression.

I’d be delighted if someone posts a link to the original Navajo transcription or recording in the comments below.

-o-

Comes the deer to my singing
Comes the deer to my song

He the blackbird he am I
Bird beloved sing my song

Down the mountain from the summit
In the blossoms through the dew

Stamping softly with your feet
Quarry mine where are you

Blessed am I in the chase
I thank the Spirit for my song

Comes the deer to my singing
Comes the deer to my song

4 thoughts on “Navajo Hunting Song

  1. This is alright but rather looks thin—it needs flesh, lot of glowing flesh. “Blessed am I” does not go well with the spirit of the song. Maybe you snatch the music of the composition and make one of your own where you have freedom of the subject and the idiom. You can of course acknowledge the source of your inspiration.

  2. I don’t have the original Navajo song, and without access to that it will be difficult to add genuine “glowing flesh”. This is entirely an adaptation from the original translation, to which I have made minimal changes to bring it all into the same rhythm.

    Even so, this rendering is quite effective in my judgment. As a song sung while dancing in ritual, it supports repetition of the couplets as the mood deepens or shifts.

    Perhaps another couplet could be added before “Blessed” to incorporate the repeating “coming coming now” theme in the original. Let me see what to do with the blessed line.

  3. Here’s version 2.0. I have replaced the extraneous “where are you” with the significant “coming, coming now”, and changed “dew” to the extraneous “snow”, which is not such a bad bargain. I have changed “Blessed” to the more appropriate “blessing” meaning gift from God. Also changed the oxymoron “stamping softly”.

    -o-

    Comes the deer to my singing
    Comes the deer to my song

    He the blackbird he am I
    Bird beloved sing my song

    Down the mountain from the summit
    In the blossoms through the snow

    Running softly on his feet
    My quarry’s coming, coming now

    He’s the blessing of the chase
    I thank the Spirit for my song

    Comes the deer to my singing
    Comes the deer to my song

  4. Don’t you think that rhymed couplets will be more effective? The song will close upon itself at every stage which is desirable for the dancing circle. How about “He is the prize of my chase”? But go by your own feeling of the sense and the sound.

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