Grey Brother’s song for Mowgli

Grijze Broeders lied voor Mowgli, illustratie © Emily Van Overstraeten
© Emily Van Overstraeten, 2e prijs stArt Award 2017

Human arm has cradled you,
human voice sang you to sleep,
red flame-flower kept you warm
Mowgli, until tiger came.

You were reared on wolf milk after
searing flower’s scorching heat
bit into the tiger’s feet:
when we suckled, there was room
to feed you too.

Father wolf and mother wolf
licked you clean with velvet tongues,
living in our cave among us
you became our brother cub.

Mowgli, funny naked frog
without furry coat or tail,
short of snout but nimble-fingered,
panther (who knows humans) paid
a bull for you.

You are not like other creatures:
red spark-flower in your stare
makes us all avert our eyes
Mowgli, master of the fire.

Bear took care of you, he taught you
all the laws and master words,
languages of beasts and birds
and our jungle wisdom, too
as you grew.

All (except some monkey folks
who even kidnapped you one time)
respect you now as one of them
Mowgli, funny naked frog.

For a while you lived with humans,
learned to quack the way they do.
No one understood you there:
frightened of the magic things
you did and knew.

But we jungle-dwellers never
will forget how you came back
after you defeated tiger –
with me, grey brother from your pack.

Mowgli, Mowgli, which are you:
funny wolf or feral man?
Both are true.

Judy Elfferich | © vertaling: Vivien D. Glass

Nederlandse versie: Grijze Broeders lied voor Mowgli.

Met dank aan Vivien Glass (klik) voor haar toestemming om de vertaling hier te posten.