A Yorùbá Oríkì (praise-poem) from Nigeria. As the god of fate, the uncontrollable element in human life, Eshu (Èṣù in Yorùbá) is praised as a kind of trickster god, bringing about the unexpected, the contradictory and the downright impossible.
Eshu turns right into wrong, wrong into right.
When he is angry, he hits a stone until it bleeds.
When he is angry, he sits on the skin of an ant.
When he is angry, he weeps tears of blood.
Eshu slept in the house -
But the house was too small for him:
Eshu slept on the verandah -
But the verandah was too small for him:
Eshu slept in a nut -
At last he could stretch himself!
Eshu walked through the groundnut farm.
The tuft of his hair was just visible:
If it had not been for his huge size,
He would not be visible at all.
Lying down, his head hits the roof:
Standing up, he cannot look into the cooking pot.
He throws a stone today
And kills a bird yesterday!
from Yoruba Poetry (1970),
ed. Professor Ulli Beier