No Matter: Maya Angelou paraphrased by Solomon Ratt

Thanks to Solomon Ratt for this beautiful paraphrase and translation of Maya Angelou’s famous verse (in th-dialect)

kiyâm kikakî-kithâskîwâcimin
kikakî-takoskâsin asiskîhk
kiyâpis nika-pasikôn,
tâpiskôc tipiskâwipîsim
kiyâpic nika-wâsîson.

ᑭᔮᒼ ᑭᑲᑮ ᑭᖭᐢᑮᐚᒋᒥᐣ
ᑭᑲᑮ ᑕᑯᐢᑳᓯᐣ ᐊᓯᐢᑮᕽ
ᑭᔮᐱᐢ ᓂᑲ ᐸᓯᑰᐣ,
ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᑎᐱᐢᑳᐏᐲᓯᒼ
ᑭᔮᐱᐨ ᓂᑲ ᐚᓰᓱᐣ᙮

No matter, you can tell lies about me
You can trod me into the dirt
Still I will rise
Like the moon
I will still shine
(paraphrasing Maya Angelou)

Speaking for myself, the part of Angelou’s original that resonates most is the phrase “Still, like dust, I rise.” It implies inevitability, like the moon, but also captures the depths from which one might recover in resilience. Of course this gets complicated in Cree. The same word is used for dirt and earth and clay and dust – and we know that earth and dirt and clay don’t rise like dust, or have the same inevitable ephemeral permanence (please excuse the oxymoron: we are talking poetry here!) Instead, Sol based his translation of this phrase on “kâ-ohpawakinam,” literally, “One who makes the dust fly up,” the Cree name of Chief Flying Dust who signed treaty for Flying Dust First Nation. Thanks to Sol for providing this more literal translation:

kiyâpic, tâpiskôc kâ-ohpawakâstahk, nipasikôn.
ᑭᔮᐱᐨ, ᑖᐱᐢᑰᐨ ᑳ ᐅᐦᐸᐘᑳᐢᑕᕽ, ᓂᐸᓯᑰᐣ᙮
Still, like dust, I rise.

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