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  4. “The great sea ...” by Uvavnuk
“The great sea ...”

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The great sea
frees me, moves me,
as a strong river carries a weed.
Earth and her strong winds
move me, take me away,
and my soul is swept up in joy.

Uvavnuk, untitled shaman song, translated by Jane Hirshfield, from Women in Praise of the Sacred (New York: HarperCollins, 1994). Reprinted with the permission of the translator.
Source: Women in Praise of the Sacred (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1994)
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“The great sea ...”

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  • One night, a small meteorite struck early-20th-century Iglulik Inuit shaman and oral poet Uvavnuk. This experience made her clairvoyant and marked the start of her life as a shaman. After being struck, she is said to have returned home singing a song-poem, which has since been widely anthologized; Jane Hirschfield included it in Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (1994). Uvavnuk is thought to have used her power to bring good fortune to her people, even after her death.

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