Song from the Underworld


Song from the Underworld


Uj ri rija’l usaqil
uj ri ukotz’i’jal uch’umilal ri Ajawixel Tat
                                               ri Ajawixel Nan.

Uj ri usaqil Q’ij
uj ri usaqil Saqa Ik’
ri kuq’axib’ej kan we uwochulew
                                 ri xib’alb’a
                                 le kajulew.


Somos la semilla de la luz
somos la flor de la estrella del Creador
                                               de la Creadora.

Somos el claro de sol
somos el claro de luna blanca
que trasciende esta tierra
                           al infierno
                           el universo.


We’re the seed of light
we’re the flower of the star of the Creator
                        of the Creatress

We’re the sun clearing space in the clouds
we’re the white moon shining through
it moves through this earth
            to the underworld
            the universe.

- from "Jeqb'al/Introducción/Introduction"

Winner of the 2007 B’atz’ Prize for Indigenous Literature in Guatemala, Pablo García’s Song from the Underworld experiments with the images and rhythms of traditional Maya poetry to create a poetic narrative that is an unusual blend of the ancient and the modern. The twenty-five poems are divided into four songs, each of which recounts a different phase in the journey of a couple trapped in Xibalba, the Maya underworld. The couple compare themselves to figures from the Maya creation myth, the Popol Wuj, and try to devise ways to free themselves. The book can be read as a political allegory, a critique of modern life, or as the story of a man and a woman searching for redemption. This trilingual edition includes García’s poetry in Maya K’iche’ and Spanish alongside English translations by Victoria Livingstone, as well as an introductory study on Maya literature and a glossary for mythological and cultural references.

- Victoria Livingstone

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