Wednesday, December 5, 2007

IN MEMORIAM: NORVAL MORRISSEAU

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NORVAL MORRISSEAU (1931-2007)
"We Are All One in Spirit"


The Ballad of Norval Morriseau

Norval, Norval, What's driving you?
Are the spirits talking?
Are the spirits coming thru?
Are they talking to you?
You've lived in the forest, all of your life
You've been hungry and you've suffered strife
And you paint with the blood of a thousand years
You paint the legends and you paint the fears
And you paint the birch bark and you paint the sand
And you paint your sweat with an ancient hand.

They took your paintings and hung them in town;
They took your body and flung it around,
So the world could see an Indian in high society.
They gave you a china cup filled with tea,
But you drown their pale faces in brown whiskey,
You painted their Jesus to expose their hypocrisy.

You've lived in their churches, you've known their jails
And you laughed when they said you had failed,
Your art will be living when they're all dead;

You took their green money and you painted it red;
You paint your canvas with a brush of pain,
You signed your works with an Indian name.

You're an Ojibway man, a child of this land;
An artist, a prophet with a torch in your hand;
A blueprint for seeing, and it's not for sale;
A harbour for living in the eye of a gale.
The people, they love you, and they know your truth;
The culture is yours; you can never lose.

The Algonquin nation is listening to your voice.
They're learning your wisdom and pride;
They're painting with a brush you passed on to them,
With a talent they no longer need to hide.
Yes, you've opened the doors and the windows too;
The spirits are talking;
yes they're coming through.

Duke Redbird

*The painting in this posting: "Shaman Looking Into Spiritual Realm", 38"x30", © 1986 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/; *Poem: Duke Redbird-"Native Poetry in Canada-A Contemporary Anthology", edited by Jeanette C. Armstrong & Lally Grauer, ISBN 1-55111-200-0

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

he will be missed. i grew up seeing his works, and love their haunting beauty. i posted some entries on a motorcycle-site i frequent in his honour:

http://www.sv-portal.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477879&postcount=468

http://www.sv-portal.com/forums/showpost.php?p=477881&postcount=469

AC@44 said...

I'm sad to say that today was the first time I found your blog. I wish I had done a search earlier. Norval and his work ment a lot to me, and I was sad to learn that he is now gone from us.

Anonymous said...

My thoughts go out to Christian and his family... Norval was an incredible artistic talent and true genius within his field. He is in the Spirit World dancing with all his healing colours...

Mitakuye Oyasin.

Johnz

Anonymous said...

Very Sad that Norval has died
His work will allow him to live on with the spirits of his people.
He will be remembered for his incredible talent

Lisa Morrisseau said...

My father will never be forgotten. He will remain in our thoughts and in our hearts. Meegwetch (thank you) to all who have posted in his memory! It means alot to us.

Anonymous said...

Good Morning:

I was sadden to hear the news on the passing of such a wonderful painter Copper Thunderbird. I've only seen his paintings in magazines. My blessing go out to the family on your loss. Baabapii

Marsha Assance
Beausoliel First Nation