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V. The 'ubo Wars

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p. 40

V. The Bo Wars.1

\"Arba continues:"

After the

War of the

Gods, f


to the arts

of peace.
Obo, graven on my memory

Is the sad legend which my father told me

Of the Great Gods' departure... The years slid by

Unnoted while King gun2 reigned. The World

Was young: upon the craggy slopes the trees

Shot forth red buds, and ancient f, gaunt

With suffering, dreamed again her early dreams.

Taught by the Gods, the folk began to learn

The arts of Heaven's peace anew; the drum

Returned to measures of the dance, and Great

Orsha saw the joy of life once more

In his creatures' eyes. Thus lived mankind among



of bo The Gods, and multiplied until the youth

Of f sought new homes and wider lands

In the vast Forest; and thus was born the first

Fair daughter of Odwa's city. Men called

Her bo, and the leader took the name

Olbo of bo with his chieftaincy.

is attended

by strife

from the

But to these colonists the Gods, their Fathers,

Gave no good gifts: 'midst battles with the Wild,

'Mid struggles with the Forest the town grew-

While dull remembrance of unnatural wrongs

p. 41

Bred Man's first rebel thought against the Gods;

And when the time of festival was near,

Word came to f that the folk of bo

Would bring no gifts, nor worship at the feet

Of gun. But the King scorned them, laughing: "Who lights

His lamp between the leopard's paws?"3

"The Chief"

Years passed

of bo

seeks advice, In grieving while Olbo sought the homes

Of spirits of the Forest springs, laid gifts

At crossway shrines where childless women go,

Or wandered to drear coasts to share his wrongs

With Ocean chafing at his old restraint.

But rivers answered not, not brooks, nor Gods

Of crossway altars at the light of dawn;

And through the unceasing hissing of the foam

No voice of counsel came... With Autumn's fall

Olbo came with gifts before the shrine

Of the grim Forest-God who hedged his land,

And prayed him to accept the corn he brought

And the fat beasts, nor seize his lands again.

And the God saw the oil, and smelled the blood

Of birds and cattle; and the longed-for voice

which the


gives him

p. 42

Came to Olbo: "See with the rain I come

Each year upon your fields with springing trees,

Rank-growing grass and vegetation wild:

Your work of yester-year is all undone

By my swift desolation. Be this your symbol:

Go thus against the Scornful Ones arrayed

As I."

In f was great joy: the last

Black thundercloud has passed; the maids were wed,

And all men feasted on the sacred days

Olbo in-

vades If,

and takes

the men

away as

Of gun and the Lord of Day--when sudden,

From the still Forest o'er the walls there broke

Portents of moving trees and hurrying grass

On f's stone-still revellers. (Hope perishes

In the dark hour a mother sees the dance

Of white-robed goblins1 of the midnight streets--

A glimpse, no more; and her sick child is lost

Despair held rule: the new-wed wives were lone;

Their men were slaves of bo lords. The drum

Was silent, and laughter mute. About dull tasks

A listless people wandered; but not so




p. 43

Mrimi--for she, assured of triumph, strode

To the dim court of fa, and laid bare

Her gift. A vision flickered and was gone,

And the priest prophesied: "The bode is good.

As when a sick man lies beset by fiends1

I call not to the Gods for aid, but take

The pepper on my tongue and thus invoke

Those very fiends in their dread mother's name,

And then command the Prince of leaguing Woes

(Though hastening to the River's lip) to turn

Again--such now is fa's counsel, borne

Swift in the form of Messengers to me

who advises

her to go

to bo.
His priest, his voice: 'Evil has come down on f:

By Evil only can desire prevail.

Take six he-goats to shu, the Undoer;

Thus crave his aid and go, Great Mrimi,

A harlot to the land of bo'".. So sped

Mrimi to the rebel town; and when

She finds

out the

A lord of bo sought her midst the shades

Of night, the Undoer's will possessed his lips,

And he betrayed the way of bo's downfall.

While shu's shrine yet ran with blood, the Gods,


the gods


to stones,



p. 44

Unknowing, sat alone in their abasement,

And gun said: "We scorned our upstart son;

Scorned him and let him be--nor bore in mind

The wisdom of the Past, 'A little snake

Is yet a snake.'1 See now the end has come:

Swift from the sight of mocking men we must

Depart. The sage Osnyi will lay wide

The door of our deliverance: come then--

For naked of dominion what are we Gods?"

And one by one Osnyi gave his charms

To the lorn Gods.. Orsha could but moan

"Children I made you--who but I?" and sank

Beneath the soil he loved. And shun2 threw

Her body down--but never ceased: a stream

Gushed up, the sacred stream that flows for ever.

Olkun3 fell; 'neath the wide Earth she flowed

To the broad spaces of her troubled realm...


So went the Gods; but last, as Osnyi gave

The charm to gun, last of all the Gods--

Back from the rebel town Great Mrimi

Rushed back, and cried: "The fire the vulture brought

p. 45

Shall slay the hosts of bo!
"... The months crept by

Fate-laden, white King gun's warrior son,



the bo

Ornyan,1 schooled the sireless lads to War;

But when the festive season came, he hid

Them with red fire prepared within the city,

And, as the invading hosts of bo scaled

The walls, a rush of flaming boughs destroyed

Grass garments and rebellious men. Thus fell

bo before Ornyan, and her folk

Saw slavery in f...

Time spared these deeds--

But gave to the impenetrable wilds

The place where bo stood, her rebel Gods,

The di

Festival Her rites. And here in f, by command

Of Mrimi, the children of the captives

Worship Olbo, but must flee before

Ornyan's fire. And on those days of feasting

No man may blame his wife for her misdeeds--

All-mindful of the guile of Mrimi.



p. 40

See Note VII on bo and the di Festival.

2 See Note X on gun.

p. 41

Yoruba saying.

p. 42

See Note XIII. These goblins are called Elr.

p. 43

See Note XIII for the incantation.

p. 44

Yoruba saying.

2 See Note VIII on shun.

3 See Note IX on Olkun.

p. 45

See Note X on gun and Ornyan.

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