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O Bird of Paradise

O Bird of Paradise


O bird of paradise,
My good fortune, my sustenance,
Blessed among bird species –
Sing to me, I’m downcast;
I am worn-out by the gripe;
My ears are longing for lovely tune,
My soul, my mind, my spirit too;
From song-filled chest, a refrain,
And make my wishes come true.
Born to chirp, chant and chatter,
You craft and dish out melody
For the pleasure of humanity;
O guileless bird,
Like the very sun, you light up each;
Your wine you lavish, on the just, the fiendish;
You sing so charitably, boulders softened,
The rains are gone, the sky has cleared,
The scorched earth once again green,
Heart of barbarians now less mean,
The frenzied, serene;
Sing to me, little bard,
Sweeten life’s bitter years,
Ring out your voice from mesa to mesa
And dry my tears.

© Blue Nile Poems, 2018, p.113
TRANSLATOR’S NOTE: This ode was originally composed in 23 stanzas and titled, Woffa-Yared (ወፈ ያሬድ). First three stanzas are sampled here. Yared (AD 505 – 571) is the saint credited with developing Ethiopian sacred music and notation. The bird in question is named after Saint Yared for his mellifluous sound and for supposedly teaching his trade to the saint. Probably a type of heron (see Leviticus 11:19), the bird was thought to have perished in the course of his singing because he neglected to feed himself.