Lament for Ogun

from by Michael Kelly

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about

This is the first half of one of the tales of Ogun, one
of the Loa of African mythology and religion. The Loa
are similar in many ways to gods or saints, Ogun being
the patron spirit of fire, blacksmithing, and (involuntarily)
war. The tales of Ogun hold several parallels with greek
myths, in this one particularly that of Demeter, in the
way that the world suffers at his displeasure when he
takes offense.

lyrics

Under the hammer of the sun on our backs
On the anvil of Earth we were made
Our bodies hard crafted by toil on the land
Lacking simplest of tools for our trade
Without hammer or ploughshare or blade

When the evening drew, we all fled to our homes
Where our youngest would tremble and weep
For the night was the time of the lion and wolf
And, to them, we were no more than sheep
And the beasts came for us in our sleep

Ogun heard our cries as He worked at His forge
And He turned thoughtful eyes to our plight
And, with one calloused hand, grabbed a brand from the fire
For to bring us the flame and the light
For to draw back the veil of the night

At the mountain, He taught us to dig for black iron
And to craft it with hammer and hand
Now, with tools for the farm, we were lords of the field
And, with spearheads, the lords of the land
And the beasts would soon learn to fear man

But, for some, the land's bounty was never enough
And we turned greedy eyes to our kin
And the gifts of the gods would be warped by our hands
For the greed and the glory of men
Damn the pride of the kingdoms of men!

We sharpened the tools that we'd used in the fields
And we harvested men like the grain
With the gifts of Ogun, we let out their bright blood
And we watered the fields like the rain
With each death, we sang out Ogun's name

Ogun heard those cries, and He looked from His forge
With disgust at the carnage we'd wrought
For, in banishing fear, we'd become fear itself
Tenfold worse than the beasts we had fought
And undone all the good He had sought

Ogun's hammer, He cast from His hand to the dust
And He let the fires cool on the hearth
To the forest He left, with a curse on his lips
For the men who's corrupted His worth;
Who now buried their kin in the earth

We returned from out battles, our victories sweet
But to find that our fires had grown cold
And our fields had lain fallow while we were away
We had nothing to eat but the gold
That we'd robbed from our neighbours of old

With the Maker now gone to the forest, we found
That we had not the will to rebuild
Though we prayed to Ogun, all our wells remained dry
And our fields lay unplowed and untilled
And the pits of our bellies unfilled

Good friends, forget not that the strengths of Ogun
Are all lent you with kindness and trust
And that all you might gain from a gift that's abused
In the end, seldom outweighs the cost
Of the strengths and the honour that's lost

For, the spirit of work is more precious than gold
And the blessing of craft is its boon
All the glory and wealth of the kingdoms of men
Are all dust without the sweat of Ogun
For the spirit of work is Ogun
For the spirit of work is Ogun

credits

from Fields of the North, released February 1, 2003
Guitar, Vocals, Lyrics, Melody - Michael Kelly
Cello - Christina Zaenker

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Michael Kelly Vancouver, British Columbia

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