A Story as Sharp as a Knife: The Classical Haida Mythtellers by Robert Bringhurst

By Robert Bringhurst

The Haida international is a misty archipelago 100 stormy miles off the coasts of British Columbia and Alaska. For one thousand years and extra earlier than the Europeans got here, an excellent tradition flourished in those islands. The masterworks of classical Haida sculpture, now enshrined in lots of of the world's nice museums, diversity from beautiful tiny amulets to fabulous large housepoles. Classical Haida literature is every piece as a number of and advantageous. It extends from tiny jewels crafted via grasp songmakers to difficult mythic cycles lasting many hours.

The linguist and ethnographer John Swanton took dictation from the final nice Haida-speaking storytellers, poets and historians from the autumn of 1900 throughout the summer season of 1901. His Haida hosts and co-workers have been raised in a totally oral global the place the mythic and the private interpenetrate thoroughly. They joined forces with their customer, consciously making a nice treasury of Haida oral literature in written shape. Poet and linguist Robert Bringhurst has labored for a few years with those century-old manuscripts, that have waited formerly for the vast acceptance they deserve.

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Something lay there on the shore. Two goose skins were thrown over it. Under their tails were patches of white. indd 34 01/12/2010 2:54:50 PM c ha p t e r o n e : Goose Food After watching for a while, he swooped in. He sat on the two skins. The women asked to have them back. He asked the better-looking one to marry him. The other one replied. «Don’t marry my younger sister. I am smarter. » 20 «No. » And she said that she accepted him, they say. «Well then ! Marry my younger sister. You caught us bathing in a lake that belongs to our father.

I am smarter. » 20 «No. » And she said that she accepted him, they say. «Well then ! Marry my younger sister. You caught us bathing in a lake that belongs to our father. » He gave it back. She slipped it on while she was swimming in the lake. A goose swam in the lake then, and then she started calling, and then she flew, they say, though leaving her younger sister sickened her heart. 30 She circled above them. Then she flew off, they say. She passed through the sky. He gave the younger woman one of his marten-skin blankets, and he brought her home, they say.

They went back to the place where they had left their wings. The wings of the youngest daughter were gone. They looked for them a long time. At last, evening came and the sun went down. It grew very dark. The two elder sisters reproached the youngest one : “Probably you have taken a liking to One-Side, and you have asked him to hide your wings. indd 59 01/12/2010 2:54:52 PM a sto ry a s s ha rp a s a k ni f e She almost cried while assuring them that their suspicions were unjust. ” They left her and flew away.

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