Myths of Ífè

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John Wyndham began writing and selling short stories in to periodicals, under a wide array of pseudonyms. After spending the Second World War in the English civil service and later the British Army, he began experimenting with the idea of speculative fiction, a new kind of science fiction which he employed in two of his most successful novels, "The Day of the Triffids" and "The Chrysalids".

If you know the book but cannot find it on AbeBooks, we can automatically search for it on your behalf as new inventory is added. If it is added to AbeBooks by one of our member booksellers, we will notify you! John Wyndham. Publisher: Forgotten Books , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:.

About the Author : John Wyndham began writing and selling short stories in to periodicals, under a wide array of pseudonyms. Armf would not know? Dumb spirits hungering. Odwa For life await us: let us go. So Odudwa called. With the new-rising World, and would destroy Our kingdom and undo Armf's will.

Go to the fields of men to be, the homes That they shall make. For there your rule and your dominion shall be: To curb the hungry waves upon the coastlands For ever. And thus, in our first queen of cities And secret sanctuaries on lonely shores Through every on as the season comes, Shall men bring gifts in homage to Olkun. And you, Olssa, where your ripple laps The fruitful bank, shan see continually The offerings of thankful men.

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The Bird Beneath the Bird toiled on until the bounds, makes the The corners of the World were steadfast. And then Earth, Odwa called Orsha and the Gods To the cliff's edge, and spoke these words of sorrow: "We go to our sad kingdom. Such is the will Of Old Armf: so let it be.

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But ere The hour the wilderness which gapes for us Engulf us utterly, ere the lingering sight Of those loved hills can gladden us no more May we not dream awhile of smiling days Gone by? Good-bye, ye plains we roamed. The Gods Good-bye to sunlight and the shifting shadows descend. Cast on the crags of Heaven's blue hills. So came the Gods to f. Then of an age of passing months untold By wanings of the Moon our lore repeats. A sunless The dirge of wasting hopes and the lament p.

Of a people in a strange World shuddering Beneath the thunder of the unseen waves On crumbling shores around. Always the marsh Pressed eagerly on f; but ever the Bird Returned with the unconquerable sand Ojmu poured from his enchanted shell, And the marsh yielded. Then young gun bade The Forest grow her whispering treesbut she Budded the pallid shoots of hopeless night, And all was sorrow round the sodden town Where Odudwa reigned.

Yet for live men. Orsha Orsha, the Creator, yearned, and called creates To him the longing shades from other glooms; man. He threw their images1 into the wombs Of Night, Olkun and Olssa, and all The wives of the great Gods bore babes with eyes Of those born blindunknowing of their want And limbs to feel the heartless wind which blew From outer nowhere to the murk beyond. But as the unconscious years wore by, Orsha, The Creator, watched the unlit Dawn of Man Wistfullyas one who follows the set flight p.

The Ocean menaces, chill winds moan through Our mouldering homes. Our guardian Night, who spoke To us with her strange sounds in the still hours Of Heaven is here; yet she can but bewail Her restless task. And where is Evening?

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Still wears no plumage where those embers burned him A mark of honour for remembrance. Again The Father spoke the word, and the pale Moon Sought out the precincts of calm Night's retreat p. The Age Was changed: for when the terror of bright Day of Mirth. Had lifted from the unused eyes of men, Sparks flew from Ldi's anvil, while gun taught The use of iron, and wise Oblufon1 Made brazen vessels and showed how wine streams out From the slim palms. And mirth With Odudwa reigned. Arba continues: Obo, I will tell and chronicle A second chapter from the histories.

The fable Bequeathed from other times. And this is true: For in those years when gun and the Gods Made known their handicrafts men learned to seek Thatch, food and wine in Forest and in River. Strife Patiently. Often Orsha made entreaty; oft A suppliant came before his brotherin vain; Till once when Odudwa sat with gun p.

Give back the bag for it is mine! That I may do our Father's bidding. Else, Have a care, is it not told how caution slept In the still woods when the proud leopard fell, Lured on by silence, 'neath the monster's foot? Did not Armf make Me lord of Gods and men? Who speaks Unseemly words before the king has packed His load.

And on that day the first of wars began In f and the Forest. Such was the fall Of the Gods from paths divine, and such for men The woe that Odudwa's theft prepared; But little the Gods recked of their deep guilt p. Around, Dead, dead the Forest seemed, its boughs unstirred; Dead too, amidst its strangling, knotted growth The stifled airwhile on that hush, the storm's. Armf Mute herald, came the distant thundrous voice tries to Of Old Armf as he mused: "In vain stop it; Into the Waste beneath I sent my sons The children of my happy valesto make A World of mirth: for desolation holds The homes of f, and women with their babes Are outcast in the naked woods.

How, then, this brawling? Did the Void's black soul Outmatch you, or possess your hearts to come Again into its own? For Man's misfortune I grieve; but you have borne them on the tide Of your wrong-doing, and your punishment Is theirs to share. For now my thunderbolts I hurl, with deluges upon the land To fill the marshes and lagoons, and stay For aye your impious war. Was gone, and Old Armf in his grief Departed on black clouds.

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In Heaven omnipotent: but here? What means it? I cannot tell. In the Unknown, Beyond the sky where I have set the Sun, p. Can this Be Truth: Amidst the unnatural strife of brothers The World was weaned: by strife must it endure? And with the dawn Odwa to gun, the warrior, with his comrades stood give back Before the king, and thus he spoke: "Odwa, the bag to We weary of the battle, and its agony Orsha.

Weighs heavy on our people. Have you forgot The careless hours of Old Armf's realm? Orsha willed it so, You say. In Heaven Afar Armf gave to you the empire, p. The bag You seized; but not its cluethe skill, the wisdom Of Great Orsha which alone could wake The sleeping lore. The bag he held; But all the faithless years had not revealed Its promised treasures. Bitterly he answered:. Odwa "These many years my brother has made war refuses; Upon his king; while for the crown, its power And greatness, I have wrought unceasing.

To-day My sonhope of my cause, my cause itself Wearies of war, and joins my enemies. Weak son, the sceptre you were born to hold And hand down strengthened to a line of kings Could not uphold your will and be your spur Until the end. Is it not said, "Shall one Priest bury, and anon his mate dig up p. So let it be: God of Soft Iron! Upon your royal brow descends this day The crown of a diminished chieftaincy, With the sweet honours of a king in name For I go back to Old Armf's hills.

A voiceless lore and arts which found no teacher Have lain in bondage. Yoruba threat "The Elephant has power to crush the Leopard, though he be silent. Arba continues: Obo I have told you of the days When Odudwa and Orsha fought; But of the times of peace our annals hold Strange legends also. Now in the age when mirth And Odudwa reigned, grief ever-growing Befell Great Mrimi, the wife of skilled. Mrimi Oblufonfor while his lesser wives has no Proudly bore many sons unto their lord, sons, A daughter only, young Adton, Was granted to his queen. And as the years Lagged by, a strangeness which he always seemed To keep in hiding chequered the fair day With doubtings, and waylaid her in the paths Of her fond nightly dreams.

How 'mid the boughs the sloth brought forth the ape That bore the leopard? And did not Peregn Watch o'er the birth of young Ornmila, And ever, when the morrow's sorrowing dawn Must yield up to the leaguing fiends the child's Fair life, did not the watchful God send down His messenger to stay the grasping hand Of Death? Thus do the Gods; and surely one Will give me sons. She Quick with new hope Great Mrimi sought out consults A priest of fa2 in his court yard dim, fa: Where from each beam and smoke-grimed pillar hung The charms the wise man set to guard his home, His wives and children from the ills contrived p.

To her gift she whispered, And laid it on Okpll; and the priest Seizing the charm of fa said: "Okpll, To you the woe of Mrimi is known; You only can reveal its secret cause, Its unknown cure! The face Of fa's priest was troubled, and he said:. Who tells "Mrimi, this is the message of my lord her to fa: a son, nay many sons, you long for. The Gods would give you many sons, daughter. But in your path stands shu, the Undoer, Whose shrine calls out for blood, for sacrifice: Adton.

And in the smiles of happier wives she read A mockery; Moons faded from the sky, And grief and her Adton remained Companions of her hours. At last she cried: "But sons l asked for; I will go again p. The last word is not yet. Olkun's tide Has ebbed: will it not flow again? She Went not with Mrimi to the dark court consults Of fa's priest; and when a torch disclosed fa again.

The self-same bode of sorrow in the dusk To her drear home Great Mrimi fled back In terror of the deed which love commanded, And love condemned. Silently in the night. Reveal the thoughts of fa, and the ears Of fa, the God-Messenger, have heard The far-off, thundrous voice.

Would you hold back? Is not the birth of Nations the first law Armf gave? Can any wife withstand His will, or maid stern gun's call? Is the grim World a morning market Where they drive bargains with the folk they made? Are babes as bangles which Oblufon Fashions to barter? Now thrice, 1 Thrice to the woman Mrimi the word Has comewith promise of the World's desire: Not every wife is chosen for the mother Of a house of kings. And think!

The death On the Undoer shu's altarwhile of Adton. The lazy blue of early morning smoke Crept up the pass between the hills. The years slid by returns Unnoted while King gun2 reigned. The World to the arts Was young: upon the craggy slopes the trees of peace. 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.

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Thus lived mankind among. The The Gods, and multiplied until the youth foundation Of f sought new homes and wider lands of bo In the vast Forest; and thus was born the first Fair daughter of Odwa's city. While dull remembrance of unnatural wrongs p. But the King scorned them, laughing: "Who lights His lamp between the leopard's paws? 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. Black thundercloud has passed; the maids were wed, And all men feasted on the sacred days.

Olbo in- Of gun and the Lord of Daywhen sudden, vades If, From the still Forest o'er the walls there broke and takes Portents of moving trees and hurrying grass the men On f's stone-still revellers. Hope perishes away as In the dark hour a mother sees the dance slaves. 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. Mrimi p. A vision flickered and was gone, And the priest prophesied: "The bode is good.

As when a sick man lies beset by fiends 1 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 Againsuch now is fa's counsel, borne Swift in the form of Messengers to me. 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 A lord of bo sought her midst the shades out the Of night, the Undoer's will possessed his lips, secret. And he betrayed the way of bo's downfall. While shu's shrine yet ran with blood, the Gods,. Meanwhile, p. The sage Osnyi will lay wide The door of our deliverance: come then For naked of dominion what are we Gods?

Orsha could but moan "Children I made youwho but I? And shun 2 threw Her body downbut never ceased: a stream Gushed up, the sacred stream that flows for ever. 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. The months crept by Fate-laden, white King gun's warrior son,. Ornyan Ornyan,1 schooled the sireless lads to War; destroys But when the festive season came, he hid the bo Them with red fire prepared within the city, army. 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. But gave to the impenetrable wilds The place where bo stood, her rebel Gods,. The di Her rites. And here in f, by command Festival 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.

After the An age passed by, and f knew no more bo Wars, Of battles; for gun, grey and bent, chose out gun reigns The way of peace beloved of Old Armf. Forgotten lives were lived, and shadowy priests Kept warm the altars of the departed Gods: Old men went softly to the River's lip1 Unsung: 'twixt hope and fear mute colonists Went forth to the strange forests of the World; And unremembered wives sought out the shrines Of the givers of new life.

Their names are lost. Yet now, Obo, let a final tale Be told; for, at the last, that silent age Yields up the legend of its fall. But then came traders from the wilds p. These tales, oft-told In house and market, filled the air with rumours And dreams of war which troubled the repose Of ancient ffor, while the fathers feared The coming of the day when the grey God, Aweary of Earth's Kingship, would go back To his first far-off home, the young men's dreams Were always of Ornyan, and their pale days.

Ornyan Lagged by. Such were the various thoughts of men returns In f, when on a clay, unheralded, from Ornyan2 with a host appeared before distant Her peaceful gates. None could deny his entrance: Wars to The hero strode again the streets he saved demand the From the Olbo's grass-clad men, and came crown. Before his father to demand the crown Of Odudwa. King gun spoke: "My son, p. But why with these armed men do you recall Times well-forgotten and the ancient wars?

This is a land of peace: beneath the shade Of f's trees the mirth of Heaven's vales Has found a home, the chorus and the dance Their measure. Lay by your arms, and may no hurt Attend your coming or your restful hours! Armf spokeand Odudwa's dream Of wisdom linked to supreme power begat A theft! What Heaven-sent art has gun to undo That deed, and bid the still-born live? Besides, Who taught the peaceful peoples of the World Their longing for red War? Who forged their weapons With steel Armf gave for harvesting? Who slew young maids who would not wed to bear p. Who, pray, but gun, The God of War?

What then? First, long ago, The sunny months of heaven when I roamed A careless boy upon the mountains; then, As a whole season when the boisterous storms Fill full the crag-strewn bed with racing waters, And the warm Sun is hidden by the clouds, Doom brought me journeys, toils in darkness, wars And yet more wars. Again the barren months Are here: the wagtail lights upon the rock The river hid; a lazy trickle moves And in my age Armf's promised peace Gives back her stolen happiness to f.

And now, the sage Osnyi2 is no more, His charms forgotten: I cannot turn to stone And vanish like Odwa; I cannot cast p. No, Earth must hold me, glad or desolate, A King or outcast in the vague forest, Till Heaven call mewhen the locked pools bask, And shun sleeps. Till then I ask to be In peace; and, with my tale of days accomplished, My last arts taught, Armf's bidding done I, the lone God on Earth who knows fair Heaven, And the calm life the Father bade us give To men,I, gun, will make way, and go Upon the road I came. These years the kingly power has passed away From the old sleeping town Odwa built To me, Ornyan, battling in far lands Where no voice spoke of f.

Let f choose Her way: obscurity or wide renown! The old p. At length, Elffon, the friend men desire Of gun, voiced the fond hopes of the old chiefs gun to Who feared Ornyan and his coming day: remain; "Ours is the city of the shrines which guard The spirits of the Gods, and all our ways Are ordered by the Presences which haunt The sacred precincts. The noise of war and tumult Is far from those who dream beneath the trees Of f. There is another way of life: The way of colonists.

Let them press onward, and let Ornyan lead them Till the far corners of the World be filled; Let the unruly fall before their sword Until the Law prevail. But let not f Swerve from the cool road of her destiny For dreams of conquest; and let not gun leave The roof, the evening firelight and the ways Of mento go forth to the naked woods. Reign on your stable throne. Vibrant with the romance, the living lustre, Ornyan's name bestows, great rumours came To mock our laggard seasons; and each year Mrimi's festival recalls alike The hero's name and f's greatness.

Must All f slumber that the old may drowse? No; we will have Ornyan, and no other, To be our King. And wearily He spoke his last sad words: "My boyhood scarce Had ended on Armf's happy hills p. I have grown old with f: Sometimes I feel that gun did become f, and f gun, with the still lapse. Yet she rejects me. Would be more kind, and to my trees I go. Dawn came; and gun stood upon a hill To Westward, and turned to take a last farewell Of his old queen of citiesbut white and dense. O'er harbouring woods and unremembering f A mist was laid and blotted all. That vision paled: red-gold Above grey clouds the Sun of yesterday Climbed upto shine on a new order.

So passed Old gun from the land. The relationships of the various gods are differently stated by different chiefs and priests of f, and also by the same men at different times. It appears, however, that Armf ruled in Heaven, and sent his sons, Odwa and Orsha, to a dark and watery region below to create the world and to people it. According to the legends told in f, the gods were not sent away as a punishment; but there is some story of wrong-doing mentioned at wu in the Jbu country.

Armf gave a bag full of arts and wisdom to Orsha, and the kingship to Odwa. On the way from Heaven Odwa made Orsha drunk, and stole the bag. On reaching the edge of Heaven, Odwa hung a chain over the cliff and sent down a priest, called Ojmu, with a snail-shell full of magic sand and a "five-fingered" fowl. Ojmu threw the sand on the water and the fowl kicked it about.

Wherever the fowl kicked the sand, dry land appeared. Thus the whole world was made, with f as its centre. When the land was firm, Odwa and Orsha let themselves down the chain, and were followed by several other gods. Orsha began making human beings; but all was dark and cold, because Armf had not sent the sun with Odwa. So Odwa sent up, and Armf sent the sun, moon and fire.

Fire was sent p. Then the gods began to teach their arts and crafts to men. After many years Orsha made war upon Odwa to get back his bag. The various gods took sides, but some looked on. The medicine-men provided amulets for the men on both sides. Armf was angry with his sons for fighting and threw his thunderbolts impartiallyfor he was the god of thunder in those days. The war is said to have lasted years, and came to an end only because the gods on Odwa's side asked him to give back the bag. Odwa, in a huff, transformed to stone and sank beneath the earth, taking the bag with him. His son, gun, the god of iron, then became king.

In the words of an old chief: "It is our ancient law that the spirit of Odmla passes from body to body, and will remain for ever on the earth. This is a matter of dogma, and I express no opinion. Arba told me another version of the end of the War of the Gods: Orsha and Odwa agreed to stop the fighting on condition that each should have a man for sacrifice every seven months.

Fourteen months was then regarded as a year. Another story Arba told me was: "The Moon is a round crystal stone, which is with Odwa. They take it in front when they go to sacrifice to Odwaotherwise the god would injure the man who offers the sacrifice. When I went to Odwa's shrine, there was a great knocking of doors to warn the god of my arrival.

I did not see the stone. The legend of Orsha's creation of Man is mysterious. He is said to have thrown images into wombs. I was once told he put signs into women's hands.

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I can only account for this story by the suggestion that it may date from a period when men had not discovered the connection between sexual intercourse and the birth of children. As to spirit life before birth, the priest of Armf said "A child may have been with the spirits, but when he is born he forgets all about it. The sacrifice offered to Orsha consists of eight goats, eight fishes, eight rats and eight kola-nuts. Orsha was a god of great knowledge apart from the contents of the bag which was stolen from him , and taught his son, Oluorgbowho, according to tradition, is the ancestor of the white races.

Our ancestor has need of eggs, fowls, sheep, kolaand snails. Little is told of Oblufon, the husband of Mrimi. He was a man sent from Heaven by Armf, and was a weaver and a worker in brass. He also showed the people how to tap the palms for palm-wine. Apart from that, "he took care of everybody as a mother of a child, and used to go round the town to drive out sickness and evil spirits. Mrimi is the great heroine of the f legends.

The story of her sacrifice which I have adopted is Arba's version. I went also to Mrimi's priest, who showed me her imageof painted wood and no artistic meritrepresenting a naked negress. His story was much the same as Arba's; but, in his version, Mrimi sacrificed her only son, Ysu, for the whole world and not to any god. It would appear that some early Christian missionary had recognised the Virgin Mary in Mrimi; but it may be doubted whether the missionary had heard of Mrimi's visit to bo See Note VII.

The story of the bo Wars is that some colonists went from f to found a new town which they called bo; but as the gods had given them nothing, they invaded f. On the first occasion they were driven back; but the next year they came dressed in grass, terrified the people of f and took the men as slaves. And in those parts of Africa dead kings and gods in need of sacrifice are believed to prefer slaves to free men.

Then Mrimi consulted fa, and was told to sacrifice six goats and six bags of cowries to shu, and go as a harlot to bo. Her mission was successful, and she returned with the necessary informationonly to find the gods had transformed to rivers, stones, etc.

It seems that gun did not transform, as he was afterwards displaced by his son, Ornyan. Men dressed in hay parade the town, but have to run for their lives when others pursue them with fire. Fire is also taken out to the Bush. On the first day of di, the rn appears, but must remain in the Afin Palace for the remaining seven. During this period the women do honour to Mrimi's share in the victory by emulating her deed, and their husbands are not allowed to interfere. The meaning of the legend is doubtful. There may have been such a town as bo, but it seems likely that the Festival is connected with agriculture.

The date of the Festival early in the dry season , the fire and the men dressed in hay, all suggest this interpretation. On the other hand, the same arguments, combined with the seclusion of the rn and the license of the women, would favour the view that di was the more general Festival of the Saturnalia. Possibly it was so originally; and the demons to be driven out appeared so material in the form of tropical vegetation that bo the Bush to be burned has obscured the former meaning of the Festival.

If this be so, Mrimi's mission to bo may be a later fable to account for the license of the women before farming operations begin. Accordingly she took her place on Odwa's left, Orsha being on his right; that is to say shun was considered the third personage in f. The second chief in f, the Obalfe, claims descent from shun for himself and half the people of his quarter of the town.

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