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Oíbo I have told you of the days
When Odudúwa and Orísha fought;
But of the times of peace our annals hold
Strange legends also. . . Now in the age when mirth
And Odudúwa reigned, grief ever-growing
Befell Great Mórimi, the wife of skilled
|Obálufon—for while his lesser wives|
Proudly bore many sons unto their lord,
A daughter only, young Adétoún,
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. Once with the Spring,
She saw the clustered tree-tops breaking into leaf
Copper and red and every green, and she
Remembered how beneath the new year's buds
It was ordained by Peregún ’Gbo, lord
Of uninhabitable woods that Life
p. 36 Should spring from Forest, and Life from Life,—till all
The Woods were gladdened with the voice of beasts
And birds—and thus she reasoned: "Is it not told
How Peregún ’Gbo1 spoke, and from the womb
Of Forest leaped the sloth that laughs by night?
How 'mid the boughs the sloth brought forth the ape
That bore the leopard? And did not Peregún
Watch o'er the birth of young Orúnmila,
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. Ah! whom must I appease?"
| Quick with new hope Great Mórimi sought out|
A priest of Ífa2 in his court yard dim,
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. 37 By the bad spirits. To her gift she whispered,
And laid it on Okpéllè; and the priest
Seizing the charm of Ífa said: "Okpéllè,
To you the woe of Mórimi is known;
You only can reveal its secret cause,
Its unknown cure!" Then he laid down the charm
And Óffun Kánran stood before them. The face
Of Ífa's priest was troubled, and he said:
|"Mórimi, this is the message of my lord|
Ífa: a son, nay many sons, you long for.
You have a daughter, and your husband's love
Was yours. The Gods would give you many sons,
But in your path stands Éshu, the Undoer,
Whose shrine calls out for blood, for sacrifice:
Adétoún." Without hope Mórimi
Went forth, and loathing of the ways of the Gods
Possessed her—while indignation fed her love
Of her one child. . . .
|The months passed by: Moons came,|
|And in the smiles of happier wives she read|
A mockery; Moons faded from the sky,
And grief and her Adétoún remained
Companions of her hours. At last she cried:
"But sons l asked for; I will go again
p. 38 And pray for sons and my Adétoún.
The last word is not yet. Olókun's tide
Has ebbed: will it not flow again?"
|Went not with Mórimi to the dark court|
Of Ífa's priest; and when a torch disclosed
The self-same bode of sorrow in the dusk—
To her drear home Great Mórimi fled back
In terror of the deed which love commanded,
And love condemned. . . . Silently in the night
her to act
|Came Édi, the Perverter, the smooth of tongue,|
Who with his guileful reasoning compels
To conscious sin: "The forms of messengers
Reveal the thoughts of Ífa, and the ears
Of Ífa, the God-Messenger, have heard
The far-off, thundrous voice. Would you hold back?
Is not the birth of Nations the first law
Arámfè gave? Can any wife withstand
His will, or maid stern Ógun's call?1 To-day
Is yours, oh, mother of great kings that shall be:
The green shoots greet the Spring-rain and forget
The barren months, and Mórimi shall know
Her grief and her reproach no more." Then doubt
p. 39 Seized Mórimi but still she answered; "Will Gods
Not give? Is the grim World a morning market
Where they drive bargains with the folk they made?
Are babes as bangles which Obálufon
Fashions to barter?" But Édi answered her:
"But once Arámfè spoke to Odudúwa,
And with what heavy hearts the Gods went forth
From Heaven's valleys to the blackness! Now thrice,1
Thrice to the woman Mórimi the word
Has come—with promise of the World's desire:
Not every wife is chosen for the mother
Of a house of kings. And think!—Obálufon!"
Then Édi, the Perverter, hid his form
In darkness; and with the dawn a young girl lay
|On the Undoer Éshu's altar—while|
The lazy blue of early morning smoke
Crept up the pass between the hills.
1 See Note VI on Mórimi's sacrifice.
1 See Note XI on Peregún ’Gbo.
2 See Note XII on the divination of Ífa.
1 Ógun kills unmarried girls of marriageable age.
1 According to the legend, Mórimi consulted Ífa three times before acting on his advice.