Omen/ He Dances in the Courtyard of the Impertinent


Water by the side of fire at the center of the sky

A strange thing, on the road to Teji Oku

He strikes a stone in the forest, stone bleeds blood

He carries a heavy stone upon his head without a cushion.

Shango splits the wall with his falling thunderbolt.

He makes a detour in telegraphic wire

Leopard of the flaming eyes

Lord who wears the sawtooth – bordered cloth of returning ancestors (egun)

Storm on the edge of a knife.

Earthworm, despite no eyes, plunges deep into the earth

He dances savagely in the courtyard of the impertinent

He sets the liar’s roof on fire

He carries fire as burden on his head

The gaze of this leopard sets the roof on fire


Father, grant us the intelligence to avoid saying stupid things.

Against the unforeseen, let us do things together.

Swift king, appearing like the evening moon.

His very gaze exalts a person.

I have an assassin as a lover.

Beads of wealth blaze upon his frame.

Who opens wide his eyes

Leopard of the flaming eyes

Fire, friend of hearth.


Leopard, of the copper-flashing eyes

Fire, friend of hearth.

Lord with flashing, metallic, eyes,

With which he terrifies all thieves


(a Yoruba praise song for Shango, from Robert Farris Thompson’s  “Flash of the Spirit”)

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