Robert Bringhurst is one of Canada’s most respected poets, one of its most probing cultural historians, a skilled linguist who has worked for many years with Native American texts and author of Story as Sharp as a Knife, Volume 1 of the trilogy: Masterworks of the Classical Haida. He translated Nine Visits to the Mythworld from Haida, originally phonetically transcribed by a young American anthropologist on the Northwest Coast of North America in 1900. Among the legendary mythtellers was a blind man in his fifties by the name of Ghandl.
Robert Bringhurst’s book The Solid Form of Language (Gaspereau Press) delved into the creative tensions between oral language and written script. His 2006 and 2007 books The Tree of Meaning: Thirteen Talks and Everywhere Being is Dancing: Twenty Pieces of Thinking contemplate the connections between poetry, language, nature and philosophy.
See also: To celebrate the Griffin appearances at Poetry International in 2004, The Times Literary Supplement published new poems by Robert Bringhurst, Margaret Atwood, Anne Simpson and August Kleinzahler in their October 22nd issue. Enjoy those poems here.
For most readers, Nine Visits to the Mythworld will be a revelation.
For most readers, Nine Visits to the Mythworld will be a revelation. These sophisticated narrative poems by Haida mythteller Ghandl come from an unfamiliar imaginative world, studied by specialists more for its anthropological interest than its artistry. Robert Bringhurst’s sinewy language and acute formal intelligence now reveal poetry of vivacity and stature, which can be enjoyed as a cultural treasure.
by Robert Bringhurst
Then she went inland, they say,
taking her mats and all her belongings.
She walked up the bed of the creek,
and she settled there.
Later a trail was cut over top of her.
The traffic disturbed her, she said,
and she moved farther inland.
She sank to her buttocks, they say.
There, they say, she is one with the ground.
When her son takes his place,
she scatters flakes of snow for him.
Those are the feathers.
That is the end.
Copyright © 2000 Robert Bringhurst