“Native American Poems translated by Michael R. Burch.” Editor’s Note: These are loose translations and interpretations of Native American poems and poetic proverbs. Burch began translating Native American travelers’ blessings when his father declined dialysis and entered hospice.
Cherokee Travelers’ Blessing I
I will extract the thorns from your feet.
Yet a little longer, we will walk life’s sunlit paths together.
I will love you like my own brother, my own blood.
When you are disconsolate, I will wipe the tears from your eyes.
And when you are too sad to live, I will put your aching heart to rest.
Cherokee Travelers’ Blessing II
Happily may you walk
in the paths of the Rainbow.
and may it always be beautiful before you,
beautiful behind you,
beautiful below you,
beautiful above you,
and beautiful all around you
where in Perfection beauty is finished.
Set to music by Patricia Falanga, a compiler of American music
Cherokee Travelers’ Blessing III
May Heaven’s warming winds blow gently there,
where you reside,
and may the Great Spirit bless all those you love,
this side of the farthest tide.
And wherever you go,
whether the journey is fast or slow,
may your moccasins leave many cunning footprints in the snow.
And when you look over your shoulder, may you always find the Rainbow.
Sioux Vision Quest
by Crazy Horse, Oglala Lakota Sioux (circa 1840-1877)
A man must pursue his Vision
as the eagle explores
the sky’s deepest blues.
As I walk life’s trails
imperiled by the raging wind and rain,
grant, O Great Spirit,
that yet I may always
walk like a man.
This prayer makes me think of Native Americans walking the Trail of Tears with far more courage and dignity than their “civilized” abusers.(Michael R Burch)
Before you judge
a man for his sins
be sure to trudge
many moons in his moccasins.
Published by The Cherokee Native Americans and A Hundred Voices
Native American Proverbs
When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced.
Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.
The soul would see no Rainbows if not for the eyes’ tears.
–Native American saying
A woman’s highest calling is to help her man unite with the Source.
A man’s highest calling is to help his woman walk the earth unharmed.
–Native American saying
Speak less thunder, wield more lightning. — Apache proverb
The more we wonder, the more we understand. — Arapaho proverb
Beware the eloquence of the rattlesnake’s tail. — Navajo saying
The rattlesnake’s tail is eloquent. — Navajo saying
Adults talk, children whine. — Blackfoot proverb
Don’t be afraid to cry: it will lessen your sorrow. — Hopi proverb
One foot in the boat, one foot in the canoe, and you end up in the river. — Tuscarora proverb
Our enemy’s weakness increases our strength. — Cherokee proverb
We will be remembered tomorrow by the tracks we leave today. — Dakota proverb
The heart is our first teacher. — Cheyenne proverb
Dreams beget success. — Maricopa proverb
Knowledge interprets the past, wisdom foresees the future. — Lumbee proverb
The troublemaker’s way is thorny. — Umpqua proverb
What is life?
The flash of a firefly.
The breath of the winter buffalo.
The shadow scooting across the grass that vanishes with sunset.
Michael R. Burch is an American poet who lives in Nashville, Tennessee with his wife Beth and two incredibly spoiled puppies. He has over 6,000 publications, including poems that have gone viral. His poems, translations, essays, articles, letters, epigrams, jokes and puns have been published by TIME, USA Today, BBC Radio 3, Writer’s Digest–The Year’s Best Writing and hundreds of literary journals. His poetry has been translated into 14 languages, taught in high schools and colleges, and set to music by 23 composers, including two potential operas if the money ever materializes. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com, has served as editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks, is on the board of Borderless Journal, an international literary journal, and has judged a number of poetry contests over the years.
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com More of his personal work can also be viewed at https://poetrylifeandtimes.com video & audio poems, translations etc.,