God as a Swarm of Bees

October 1 is Independence Day in Nigeria, with independence from Britain coming about on this day in 1960.

Here is a poem that comes from the Yoruba people, one of the three main ethnic groups within the country. Their traditional religion, in this invocation at least, depicts God as "father of laughter," and intruigingly as a swarm of bees...

Invocation of the Creator

He is patient, he is not angry.
He sits in silence to pass judgement.
He sees you even when he is not looking.
He stays in a far place--but his eyes are on the town.

He stands by his children and lets them succeed.
He causes them to laugh--and they laugh.
Ohoho--the father of laughter.
His eye is full of joy.
He rests in the sky like a swarm of bees...

(Trans. Ulli Beier. Czeslaw Milosz, ed., A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry [New York: Harcourt, 1996], p. 273).


Thumbnail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Nigeria