Monday, May 21, 2012

The Fall of Seven Macaw (or, Hunahpu Flips the Bird).

[This is one of the most famous scenes in Mayan mythology. I think it's where the phrase "flipping the bird" originally came from. I've followed the PV account in general outline, with a few changes.]

But Seven Macaw still could not see past the horizon.
He knew not Hurucan's plans, he knew not Hurucan's secrets.

And one day again he flew to the nance tree,
And one day again he spoke to the wind:
I will see you, Hurucan!
You will not conceal yourself in clouds.

And Seven Macaw arose on high:
He stood, he rose, he raised his wings,
Balanced upon the highest branch
In the form of a luminous bird
Perched upon the swaying branch,

And from his eyes he shone the light
To pierce the clouds of Hurucan;
And from his face he shone the light
To the horizon's furthest plane,

Searching, seeking, piercing --
All his will, all his mind on the horizon alone,
All his sight drawn to the horizon alone.

And as Seven Macaw stood all alone,
High off the ground, on the uppermost branch,
Alone and up high on that thin, swaying branch --

There, down below, under the nance tree,
Were the two sons of One-Hunahpu,
Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

Hunahpu whispered to his brother
He does not see us. He does not notice.
He sees us not as we hide in the bushes.
Let's get him now -- he won't know what hit him!

Shoot, Brother, while I stand watch;
We will destroy him and no one will save him.

So he loaded his blow-gun, the son of the Sun:
He aimed in the stillness at Seven Macaw;
Silent and deadly his aim did he draw;
He shot at the jawbone, he shot with his gun.

So silent his dart, so deadly his aim,
Seven Macaw did not know when it came.
Out of the blue he was struck on the jaw,
Hurled from the sky was Seven Macaw,
Shrieking in agony, struck, stunned, surprised,
Not knowing what happened, he fell from the skies.

Down through the branches he tumbled and crashed,
Down from the treetop he helplessly fell,
Down from the heavens, down from the clouds,
Down to the ground where he crashed and lay still.

Now, said Hunahpu, We'll finish him off,
We'll wring the neck of that bird.

The brothers approached, one on each side
Of Seven Macaw, where he lay stricken.
"Now!" cried Hunahpu; he pulled out his knife --
Up sprang Seven Macaw, and fought for his life.

Seven Macaw:
Who are you two, and why do you attack me?

We are Hunahpu and Xbalanque;
The sons of One-Hunahpu,
The One and True Sun --
The one you have wronged,
The one you offend.

Expect no mercy from us, Macaw --
We're here to take what's ours.

Seven Macaw:
You claim the Sun by right of birth,
But it is I who light the Earth.
My actions are my only claim,
I need no other source of fame.
What you were given, I have learned;
My own divinity I have earned.
I was not born above the sky,
Yet still no less a god am I.

Then let a show of strength decide
Which of us is deified.

We will restore our father's right,
We will regain our rightful claim,
By snuffing out your stolen light
In the name of Hurucan!

Seven Macaw:
Then against the name of Hurucan
And whatever heralds bear it
I will fight.

So they rolled on the ground, they wrestled and fought,
The sons of One-Hunahpu and the bird that they caught.

And Seven Macaw changed as he fought,
From bird to man, from man to bird --
Now here, now there, a rapid blur.
Though he stood alone against the pair
Without a friend, he felt no fear.
Like feral lightning, wild and fierce
Was the flashing of his metal eyes.

They grappled and struggled, dust flew from the ground,
And on went the contest, round after round,

Until Seven Macaw caught the arm of Hunahpu,
And he tore and pulled off the arm of Hunahpu.

The Son of the Sun gave a terrible cry;
Off went the Macaw, away did he fly
Bearing the arm of his enemy's son.
He took it away -- the trophy he'd won.

Never fear, said Hunahpu, I'll get back my arm.
Then that bird will regret doing me harm.

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