[ YC 122 NEWCWC Poetry] Poems of the Sky Temple of the Northern Seas

((This is my entry into the poetry category for the Capsuleer Writing Contest. I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of the pre-contact Achur culture, which I’ve written about in previous contests [and which is the subject of a long-form novel I’ve been working on for three years now, being published in chapters over on Backstage]. These poems may be considered singly or as a whole. Hope you enjoy them!))

Voshyu-Vilitin, Tesvakyota Akamaat-Shokkun

Poems of the Sky Temple of the Northern Seas, from the Long Winter Period

(Note: the following poems and literary fragments were recovered from the ruins of the Sky Temple of the Northern Seas, unearthed in archaeological expeditions undertaken during the post-contact assimilation of the Achura homeworld into the Caldari State. Recent scholarly research suggests that this Temple persisted as an isolated settlement for several centuries during the Long Winter Period, maintaining a monastery and subsisting in the harsh northern climate long after most other outposts had been abandoned. By the later Long Spring Period the Temple was no longer inhabited, but many of its manuscripts were preserved by the cold temperatures and salinization from sea air. They are notable for the relatively unchanged literary forms employed, as the isolated Temple monks and nuns copied and re-copied the same limited set of texts over several centuries, rigidly repeating the styles of the broader Achur culture to which they no longer had access. The versions here mostly conform to the Sky Temple’s characteristic “tandem style” of speaking and writing, in which two authors share a single voice, and which this presentation attempts to preserve. The title of the collection is from the Caldari-language translation published in the Proceedings of the Archaeological Institute of the School of Applied Knowledge in YC27)

  1. Black Leopard

Spring sun shining , faint rose low
in the sky , shining, shining
on the ice and glinting, glinting
on the sea.
The great waves surge back and forth
thunder of all the world crashing
on the rocks, crashing
the mountains, unmoved , cold and still.
In the swells of the sea , beneath the waves
black leopards stalk , back and forth
searching, seeking
silent and powerful, and I am afraid .
In our hut , warm with fire
we celebrated First Spring Moon
with a feast , and dancing, spinning back and forth
you were laughing , warm with fire and wine.
I didn’t see the black leopard
silent and powerful , its spirit slipped from the waves
stalking, back and forth, beyond the village
searching .

Now I watch the spring sun rising
and the waves surging back and forth
the black leopard is returned to its body , warm with feast
and I don’t want to turn back to my hut , cold and still
unmoving .

  1. Temple Song

Raise your voices to the Sea Wind
through the roof , to the open sky.
Raise your eyes to the vault of the heavens
the home of the winds
mother of the seas
temple of all temples , in the open sky.
Lift your feet from the ground
trace spirals in the water , dancing
the dance of the heavens
turning like clouds in the open sky.
Let the wind and the waters
flow through you , carry you
like ice on a river
spinning and roiling
back and forth , through open sky.
Give your soul to the Gods
carried on the winds
across the ocean , across the heavens
to the temple beyond the open sky .

  1. Shadow Play

Watching shadows dance on stone walls
telling the story of the Gods of Storms
the mighty Hunter strikes a bold figure
rippling in the winds of the great weather
unafraid and valiant.
The drummers play a martial rhythm
the Hunter chases the Thief
his limbs so fast! Outpacing his shadow
across the stones.

Oh ! my legs are too heavy,
I run, the ice cracks
thunder drumming the mountains
but I cannot catch my prey.
Oh ! my legs are too slow
I sing a martial song
and the storm carries me
across the plain.

The storm flashes , shadows on shadows
rippling across the sky,
I think of her who carries my heart
back home in the village .
Oh! if I would bring her something
fat and heavy , a feast to celebrate
dancing, our shadows rippling together
on stone walls
warm and unafraid .

  1. Lullaby

Sleep! Sleep , my darling
the sun is set , below the mist
the sea is calm, rocking you ,
piece of my heart .
If your soul should fly away
with the winds
let the Gods of Sky
hear my song and bring you back
to me
and let no dream disturb you .

Sleep ! Sleep, my little one
the hearth is warm ,
I am here by your side
to sing you this song
so the Gods of Sky
bring you back
to me.

Sleep! Sleep , my quiet one
the morning will soon be here
the sun will fill your cheeks
with rose once more
the wind will fill your mouth
with laughter once more
The Gods of Sky
will bring your soul back
to me .

Sleep ! Sleep, my beloved
rocking in my arms
a little longer.
The morning is here
The Gods of Sky shake off
the veil of night
the mists are close
and the morning is chilled
but here in my arms
you’re still warm
with me.

  1. Prayer for Morning

O Gods of Wind !
Make me your servant
and guide my hand .
Fill me with your might
and show me the hidden path
through the mountains .
O Gods of Wind!
Fill me with your grace
and look favorably upon me .
May our feet be swift and sure
may the storm spare us its wrath
our hands strong and clever
our eyes sharp and wise .
O Gods of Wind !
Take pity on me!
The night was long and cold
and the sun has not yet warmed
this world, o bitter fate !
My bones ache
but by your mercy
I stride out into the mist
in your sheltering hand
I am not afraid .

O Gods of the Heavens!
Hear my prayer
which I send to the sky
with the cold morning sun
that you might hear it
and take pity on me
your servant
and return to me once more
to fill me with your grace
and show me the path of rightness
once more.

  1. Prayer for Evening

O Gods of Stars ,
Gods of the Sea Wind ,
still your anger
the sun is set .
Let the hearth stay warm
'til morning
Let the snows fall gently
in the night
Let the lantern-oil burn clean
and cheerful
keeping the night at bay
'til morning .

We are small and fearful
before you
We plead for mercy
before you
For nothing in this world endures
before you
Accept this prayer and offering
before you
And keep warm the hearth
of those who bow down
before you .

Let me lay myself down
on the cold ground
before you
for the sun is set
and the lanterns have gone out
on this world
I pray for you to take my soul
and pity me
your servant
When I give my breath to you
'til morning.


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