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Pilgrimage Song

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Unique manuscript book

40 pages

4 in. H x 4 in. W; 15.75 in. pages extended


Accordion with gatefold pages, cloth-covered board covers. Paste and acrylic painted pages with layers of lettering, iridescent inks and pochoir. Poem lettered in gouache. Terracotta colored Cave paper fourfold wrapper with button closure. The accordion unfolds in such a way that when the covers meet, a central square space is created that evokes the sacred space created by the songs to the four sacred mountains and directions.

Poem from The American Rhythm; Studies and Re-expressions of Amerindian Songs by Mary Austin, 1930, second edition. This poem is one of the many songs and dances observed and “re-expressed” by Mary Austin during her lifelong interest in American Indian culture and ceremony. Her early interest in this subject reflected her search for a poetic rhythm growing naturally out of the land she lived in, and her collection of these poems was her alternative to imported English poetry. Even in the poems she wrote for children during her early years as a school teacher, she was searching for what she called “the landscape line.”

Pilgrimage Song
Women’s Dance at Tesuque Pueblo

That mountain there,
That white-shell mountain,
Toward the east it standeth,
O sacred mountain,
Whence the day springs,
O white-shell mountain,
Guard thou our day!

Yonder, afar,
That dark blue mountain,
Toward the north standing
That sacred mountain,
Whence the storm cometh,
O dark blue mountain,
Spare not our storm!

That mountain there,
That turquoise-colored mountain,
Toward the west it standeth,
The path of life unending
And beyond it,
O turquoise mountain,
Guide thou our way!

Yonder, afar,
Rose-yellow mountain,
Sacred southern mountain,
Yonder, afar, in beauty walking,
The way of joy unending;
Rose-yellow mountain,
Keep thou our home!

Santa Clara University Special Collections, Santa Clara, California.

A look at the beginning stages of making this book can be seen here.

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