“All Songs Come to Man When He is Alone in the Great Solitude…”


Knud Rasmsussen translates “the Greenland Eskimo Kilime”:

All songs come to man when he is alone in the great solitude.

They come to him in the wake of tears, of tears that spring from the deep recesses of the heart or they come to him suddenly accompanied by joy and laughter which wells up within us– we know not how, as we ponder upon life and look out upon the wonders of the world around us.

Then, without our volition, without our knowledge, words come to us in songs that do not belong to everyday speech.

They come to us with every breath we take and become the property of those who have the skill to weave them together for others…

All my being is song.

As I sing, I draw breath.

From the Greenland Eskimo Kilime, as told to Knud Rasmussen

(from Paul Radin, “The Literature of Primitive Peoples”, Diogenes, 12 Winter 1955, pp. 5-6)

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