North America Indian Story & Song - online book

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THE STORY AND SONG OF THE WREN.*
This little parable occurs in the ritual of a relig­ious ceremony of the Pawnee tribe. The song has no words, except a term for wren, the vocables being intended only to imitate the notes of the bird, nevertheless, one can trace, through the variation and repetition of the musical motive, the movement of the gentle thoughts of the teacher as given in the story which belongs to the song.
"A priest went forth in the early dawn. The sky was clear. The grass and wild flowers waved in the breeze that rose as the sun threw its first beams over the earth. Birds of all kinds vied with each other, as they sang their joy on that beautiful morning. The priest stood listening. Suddenly, off at one side, he heard a trill that rose higher and clearer than all the rest. He moved toward the place whence the song came, that he might see what man­ner of bird it was that could send farther than all the others its happy, laughing notes. As he came near, he beheld a tiny brown bird with open bill, the feathers on its throat rippling with the fervour of its song. It was the wren, the smallest, the least
* Both story and song were recited to me by an old priest of the rite, and were interpreted by Mr. James R. Murie.
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