Friday, June 10, 2016

Poem: The Elders are watching ..

Painting by Roy Henry Vickers
The wisdom of the Canadian aboriginal elders is poignantly captured in this poem by David Bouchard. It reminds us what it means to be a human being and the gravity of our responsibility as humans to preserve the beauty and harmony of this earth.

They told me to tell you they believed you
When you said you would take a stand.
They thought that you knew the ways of nature.
They though you respected the land.


They want you to know that they trusted you
With the earth, the water, the air,
With the eagle, the hawk, and the raven,
The salmon, the whale and the bear.


You promised you’d care for the cedar and fir,
The mountains, the sea and the sky.
To the Elders these things are the essence of life.
Without them a people will die.


They told me to tell you the time has come.
They want you to know how they feel.
So listen carefully carefully, look toward the sun.
The Elder’s are watching.


They wonder about risking the salted waters,
The ebb and flow of running tide.
You seem to be making mistakes almost daily.
They’re angry, they’re hurting, they cry.


The only foe the huge forest fears
Is man, not fire, nor pest.
There are but a few who’ve come to know
To appreciate nature’s best.


They watch as you dig the ore from the ground.
You’ve gone much too deep in the earth.
The pits and scars are not part of the dream
For their home, for the place of their birth.

They say you hunt for the thrill of the kill.
First the buffalo, now the bear.
And that you know just how few there are left, 

And yet you don’t seem to care.

They have no problem fishing for sport.
There are lots of fish in the sea.
It is for the few who will waste the catch.

For you, they are speaking through me.

You said you needed the tree for its pulp,
You’d take but a few, you’re aware
Of the home of the deer, the wolf, the fox,

Yet so much of their land now stands bare.

They told me to tell you the time has come.
They want you to know how they feel.
So listen carefully carefully, look toward the sun.

The Elders are watching

They’re starting to question the things that you said
About bringing so much to their land.
You promised you’d care for their daughters and sons,
That you’d walk with them hand in hand.


But with every new moon you seem to be
More concerned with your wealth than the few
Women and children, their bloodline, their heartbeat,
Who are now so dependent on you.
 

You are offering to give back bits and pieces
Of the land they know to be theirs.
Don’t think they’re not grateful, it’s just hard to say so
When wondering just how much you care.

Now, friend, be clear and understand
Not everything’s dark and glum.
They are seeing things that are making them smile,
And that’s part of the reason I’ve come.


They colour green has come back to the land.
It’s for people who feel like me.
For people who treasure what nature gives,
For those who help others to see.


And there are those whose actions show.
They see the way things could be.
They do what they can, give all that they have
Just to save one ancient tree.


They told me to tell you the time has come.
They want you to know how they feel.
So listen carefully carefully, look toward the sun.
The Elder’s are watching.


Of all the things that you’ve done well,
The things they are growing to love,
It’s the sight of your home, the town that you’ve built
They can see it from far up above.


Like the sun when it shines, like the full moon at night,
Like a hundred totems tall,
It has brightened their sky and that’s partially why
They’ve sent me to you with their call.


Now I’ve said all the things that I told them I would.
I hope I am doing my share.
If the beauty around us is to live through this day,
We’d better start watching - and care.

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