‘Drum of Stone’

The Air


The air dances,

spreads its wings and turns circles.

The air is a large bird,

which flies high

high up in the sky;

And so

we only feel the draught of the wings.

The Air

The air dances,

spreids its wings and birls aboot.

The air is a muckle bird,

fleein heich

heich awa in the lift;

and sae

aw we feel is the souch o his wings.



Humberto Ak’abal is from Momostenango, Totonicapán, Guatemala and left school at twelve to work with his father weaving the heavy woollen blankets for which Momostenango is famous. He is the foremost Maya K’iche’ poet, and has been recognised with many awards, both nationally and internationally.

In 1994, he refused to accept Guatemala’s highest literary award, the Miguel Angel Asturias Prize, because it is named after a writer whose work Ak’abal considers to have encouraged discrimination against the Mayan people.

Drum of Stone is a selection of the work of Humberto, reproducing his poetry in English and Scots translation, alongside examples of his work in the original K’iche’, as in the example above. The English translations are by Rosemary Burnett, a long time friend of Guatemala and GSN, and the Scots translation is provided by James Robertson. The book came out in 2010 and is published in Scotland by Kettillonia. For more of this poetry you can visit the Drum of Stone website at http://www.drumofstone.co.uk/.

Categories: Culture

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