Edited by Azizi Powell
This post showcases two examples of praise poetry for the Yoruba orisha (orisa) Ogun, the god of iron.
The content of this post is presented for religious, folkloric, and aesthetic purposes.
All content remains with their owners.
From http://archive.org/stream/OralLiteratureInAfrica/OralLiteratureInAfrica_djvu.txt Oral Literature in Africa by Ruth Finnegan
"In West Africa, apparently unlike other areas, formal praises are addressed to supernatural beings. Hausa bori spirits for instance, each have their own praise songs (taki, kirari). When the spirit is to be called, its praise songs are played through one after another until it takes possession of one of its worshippers (Smith 1957: 33). The Yoruba praise poems to deities in Nigeria and Dahomey (as well as from the Yoruba in Brazil) are particularly famous. 2 Each of the many Yoruba deities (orisha) has a series of praises expressed in figurative and obscure language, sung by the priest. Here, for instance, is a praise poem about Ogun, the god of iron, one of the most powerful deities, worshipped particularly by warriors, hunters, and blacksmiths:
Ogun kills on the right and destroys on the right.
Ogun kills on the left and destroys on the left.
Ogun kills suddenly in the house and suddenly in the field.
Ogun kills the child with the iron with which it plays.
Ogun kills in silence.
Ogun kills the thief and the owner of the stolen goods.
Ogun-kills the owner of the slave — and the slave runs away.
Ogun kills the owner of thirty 'iwofa' [pawns] — and his money wealth and
Ogun kills the owner of the house and paints the hearth with his blood.
Ogun is the death who pursues a child until it runs into the bush.
Ogun is the needle that pricks at both ends.
Ogun has water but he washes in blood.
Ogun do not fight me. I belong only to you.
The wife of Ogun is like a tim tim [decorated leather cushion].
She does not like two people to rest on her.
Ogun has many gowns. He gives them all to the beggars.
He gives one to the woodcock — the woodcock dyes it indigo.
He gives one to the coucal — the coucal dyes it in camwood.
He gives one to the cattle egret — the cattle egret leaves it white.
Ogun is not like pounded yam:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Ogun is not like maize gruel:
Do you think you can knead him in your hand ti&x*
And eat of him until you are satisfied?
Ogun is not like something you can throw in your cap:
Do you think you can put on your cap and walk away with him?
Ogun scatters his enemies.
When the butterflies arrive at the place where the cheetah excretes,
They scatter in all directions.
The light shining on Ogun's face is not easy to behold.
Ogun, let me not see the red of your eye.
Ogun sacrifices an elephant to his head.
Master of iron, head of warriors,
Ogun,great chief of robbers.
Ogun wears a bloody cap.
Ogun has four hundred wives and one thousand four hundred children.
Ogun,the fire that sweeps the forest.
Ogun's laughter is no joke.
Ogun eats two hundred earthworms and does not vomit.
Ogun is a crazy orisha [deity] who still asks questions after 780 years.
Whether I can reply, or whether I cannot reply,
Ogun please don't ask me anything.
The lion never allows anybody to play with his cub.
Ogun will never allow his child to be punished.
Ogun do not reject me!
Does the woman who spins ever reject a spindle?
Does the woman who dyes ever reject a cloth?
Does the eye that sees ever reject a sight?
Ogun, do not reject me! [Ogun needs his worshippers].
(Gbadamosi and Beier 1959: 21-2)
*ti&x - This is probably a typo but I don't know what the corrected word is or even if a word was meant to be there.
Example #2: Mayowa Adeyemo praises Ogun (God of Iron)
Yoruba Poetry, Published on Jan 4, 2014
Ògún onírè ọkọ ò mi
Irúnmolè tí ń rù mìnìmìnì
Òlómi nílé fèjè wè
Òlása nílé fìmọ̀bímọ̀ bora
Ògún aládàá méjì
Ó fìkán sánko, ó fìkán yènà
Ojó Ògún ń fìkòlé òrun bò wá s'ílé ayé
Asa iná ló mú bora
èwù èjè ló wọ̀ sọ́rùn o
Ògún onílé owó ọlọ́nà ọla
Ògún onílé kángun kàngun òde òrun
Méje l'Ògún mi
Ògún alárá nií gbajá
Ògún onírè a gbàgbò
Ògún ìkọlà a gbà 'gbín
Ògún elémoná nií gbèsun asu
Ògún akirun á gbà wo àgbò
Ògún gbénàgbénà eran ahun níí je
Ògún mákinde ti d'Ògún léhìn odi
Bí ò bá gba tápà á gbàbókí á gba húnkùnhúnkùn
á gba tèmbèrí o jàre
mo ní e má bógúnrún fìjà seré
Ògún òlódodo l'Ògún tèmi
Ọmọ Orórínà, ọmọ Tàbúfú
Morú nítorípé l'ójó Ògún kó délé ayé,
Emu ló kó bèrè o ḿgbà tó délè ìrè o
Ògún onílé owó, Olónà olà
Ògún ónile, kángunkàgun òde òrun
Mo ní e má aàbógùn fìjà sére o o
Ara Ògún kan gó gó gó
Here's the English translation from the sub-titles that are included in the video:
Ogun god of iron, my husband.
A deity that strikes heavily.
He has water at home but bathes with blood.
He has clothes but wears palm fronds.
Ogun possesses two cutlasses:
One for cutting grass, the other for making marks.
Since Ogun came down from heaven to earth,
He uses robes of fire as his cover.
A shirt of blood is what he puts on.
Ogun has a house of riches, a house of wealth.
Ogun has a house of war in the great beyond.
My god of iron is seven.
Worshippers of Ogun bring him a dog.
Ogun also accepts a ram as a sacrifice.
The Ikola offers Ogun snails.
The Elemona offer Ogun roasted yam.
The brave brings Ogun a ram.
The carpenter offers Ogun tree sap.
Makinde, Ogun has become.
If he sells Tapa, he will sell his friend
He will collect three.
Eh, do not use the sword to play with the god of iron.
My Ogun is a truthful deity.
The son of Ororina, son of Tabafu.
I tell you because when Ogun came into this world,
He asked first for palmwine when he got to Ire.
Ogun’s house is full of money.
His pathway is full of wealth.
The owner of the ugly house in heaven,
I tell you, do not fight playfully with Ogun.
Ogun isn’t smiling at all.
Click http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ogoun and http://www.orishanet.org/ocha.html for information about Ogun.
Maferefún ("praises to the spiritual energy of") Ogun.
Thanks to Ruth Finnegan, the editor of Oral Literature in Africa. Thanks also to Mayowa Adeyemo and the publisher of this video on YouTube.
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