Saving Great Turtle

Music ©2006 Hendrik Steiner and Karl Anselm.
Lyrics ©2006 Richard Schletty.


Rest, little child, as yet undefiled.
I'll sing you a story, an old allegory.
This big world so fertile rests on a fat turtle.
It suffers the weight of greed, lust and hate.

The sky has a black eye from smokestacks and wheels.
Hear the cry of the loons and the barking of seals.
When the forests are felled, the oceans will eat the hills.

Wake, all you reapers, you takers and keepers.
Let us be one with the ones who have none.
A new generation must fix degradation.
All treasures to share with nurturing care.

Who will awaken? Who is not shaken
by caps that are shrinking, by heads that aren't thinking?
When substance is lost, we all will pay the cost.

In the Sky above the Water there lived the Ancient One and his people. A Great Tree bearing flowers and fruits nourished them. One night, the wife of the Ancient One dreamed that the Great Tree was uprooted. To fulfill such a powerful prophecy, the Great One and his warriors pulled with all their might and lifted up the Great Tree, leaving a big black hole. Many creatures tried and failed to reach down and pull up Earth from the bottom of the hole. Finally, muskrat succeeded, clutching Earth in her right paw. Great Turtle said, "Put Earth on my back." The tiny bit of Earth grew on Great Turtle's back until it became the whole wide World.*

Now into the black night the tortoise might drop.
Will you help the Great Turtle keep our garden on top?
Will you see wisdom etched on the back of his shell?

Oh, Little One, will you help?

* Narrative adapted from creation story of the Onondaga Indians of the northeastern woodlands of North America