September 13, 2012 “In Beauty May I Walk”- Navajo Prayer

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

In Beauty May I Walk

In beauty may I walk;
All day long may I walk;
Through the returning seasons may I walk.

Beautifully will I possess again
Beautifully birds
Beautifully butterflies…

On the trail marked with pollen may I walk;
With grasshoppers about my feet may I walk;
With dew around my feet may I walk.

With beauty before me may I walk
With beauty behind me may I walk
With beauty above me may I walk
With beauty all around me,
may I walk.

In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, lively;
In old age, wandering on a trail of beauty, living again…
It is finished in beauty.
It is finished in beauty.

Navajo Prayer

“In Beauty May I Walk” is a Navajo prayer that I have come to love. It is simply asking to do all things in life with beauty, illustrated through the metaphor of walking.

Walking is a powerful image despite being a commonplace verb. This prayer is actually a chant, and the act of chanting mimics the repetition of walking- each chanted line is like one step on the poem’s walk, and the word “walk” repeated over and over again at the end of each line starts to sound onomatopoeic, like the heavy thud of a foot on a dirt path. The imagery of walking and the action of chanting sentences that end in “walk” fit comfortably together.

I wish I could find the Navajo word for “beauty” because the word is so crucial here. “Beauty” is such a complex word, and it would be interesting to see a more detailed translation of the original Navajo term.

I love the repetitious sentence structure as well. It reminds me of Whitman.

No hidden meaning here. Just let the eternal message of the desire for beauty in one’s life envelop you, and chant it out loud for full effect.


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