Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 42 (Popol Vuh)

Popul Vuh
Popol Vuh
Tedlock, Dennis, Trans.

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books.

Dennis Tedlock was one of the core of professors in the Poetics Program when I was there. (He still is– the last of the core from back when I was there, Creeley, Bernstein and Howe having left). I never took a course with him, but I have worked with him on various projects. We collaborated with Jonathan Skinner to bring Gary Snyder to Buffalo back in the early aughts. He read at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. There was a line from the front door all the way out to the street for that one.

Anyhow, I bought this book in 2003, just prior to a trip Lori and I took down to the Yucatan. I brought two books with me -- this one, and Olson's Selected Writings, edited by Creeley. I brought the latter because it contained the "Mayan Letters," which Olson had written to Creeley while on a fellowship down to the Yucatan. A couple of years later, I was surprised and happy to discover in Guatemala that almost all of the tourists shops in the country stocked copies of Dennis' Translation.

from Popol Vuh

This is the beginning of the Ancient Word, here in this place called Quiché. Here we shall inscribe, we shall implant the Ancient Word, the potential and source for everything done in the citadel of Quiché, in the nation of Quiché people.
And here we shall take up the demonstration, revelation, and account of how things were put in shadow and brought to light by

the Maker, Modeler,
named Bearer, Begetter,
Hunahpu Possum, Hunahpu Coyote,
Great White Peccary, Coati,
Sovereign Plumed Serpent,
Heart of the Lake, Heart of the Sea,
plate shaper, bowl shaper, as they are called,
also named, also described as
the midwife, matchmaker
named Xpiyacoc, Xmucane,
defender, protector,
twice a midwife, twice a matchmaker,

as is said in the words of Quiché. They accounted for everything -- and did it, too -- as enlightened beings, in enlightened words. 

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